MX23RW : Sunday, July 22 05:09:34

Live Commentary: Liverpool 0-3 Real Madrid - as it happened

Relive Real Madrid's commanding 3-0 victory over Liverpool in their Champions League Group B clash at Anfield.

Real Madrid continued their 100% start to the defence of their Champions League crown courtesy of a comfortable 3-0 victory over Liverpool at Anfield this evening.

Los Blancos took the lead midway through the first half when Cristiano Ronaldo flicked a superb volley into the corner following a slick interchange with James Rodriguez.

Karim Benzema added a brace before half time, looping his first over the head of Simon Mignolet before flicking a loose ball in from close range to cap off the scoring.

You can read how it all unfolded courtesy of Sports Mole's live minute-by-minute coverage below.

6.15pmGood evening! What a treat we have for you tonight as two titans of European football go head to head at Anfield, with Liverpool hosting current holders Real Madrid in Group B of the Champions League. We saw a record-breaking day of European action yesterday as 40 goals flew in, and with this mouth-watering fixture headlining the bill tonight we should be in for plenty more excitement. We have a bumper build-up for you ahead of the 7.45pm kickoff, so let's start with a look at the hosts...

6.17pmIt is fair to say that Liverpool have not hit top gear so far this season, with the club so far struggling to adapt to life without the influential Luis Suarez - who incidentally is expected to make his Barcelona debut against Real Madrid this weekend. They have only really looked like the Liverpool from last season on one occasion - when they beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 at White Hart Lane - and their tepid and lacklustre displays so far will certainly be a worry for Brendan Rodgers.

6.19pmTheir most recent outing came on Sunday as they travelled to Loftus Road to face Queens Park Rangers, and what a dramatic match it was. The Reds were overrun in the first half yet somehow managed to go into the break still goalless, when they really should have been out of the match. Richard Dunne then scored an own goal to give Rodgers's side the lead, before a flurry of four goals in the final seven minutes of the game so Liverpool eventually take home a very fortuitous 3-2 victory.

6.21pmOne thing is for certain - Real Madrid will not be as wasteful in front of goal as QPR were at the weekend. The Hoops missed a couple of glorious chances in the first half and should have been 3-0 up at the break. Should Liverpool perform as they did at the weekend then they could well be on the end of a humiliation this evening, and Madrid are a few steps up in class from a QPR side that deserved to beat the Reds. A number of the players acknowledged that they were lucky to come away with all three points, and Henderson also admitted that his side needed to improve in all areas of the field for tonight's match.

6.23pmIt certainly is a daunting task for a side not in form at the moment, despite back-to-back victories in the Premier League suggesting otherwise. Liverpool from last season would have fancied themselves against anybody, with the fluid counter-attacking style being a joy to watch and a nightmare for defenders. Suarez's absence has been a big loss to that, as has the injury suffered by Daniel Sturridge on international duty. He has since suffered a setback in his recovery and is expected to be out for another few weeks, which is a huge blow to Liverpool. Simply put, they are a completely different proposition with Sturridge in the team.

6.25pmIn his absence, Mario Balotelli must step up to the plate sooner rather than later. He has just the one goal for Liverpool since his summer move from AC Milan, and his performances seem to getting worse and worse as the weeks go on. The worst of the lot came at the weekend as he offered very little up front for his side. He failed to get at what was a shaky QPR defence, and squandered a glorious chance to break his Premier League duck when he missed an open goal. It remains to be seen whether he will start tonight's match but, if he does, Liverpool will need him to turn up in such a big game.

6.27pmDespite all that, Liverpool still sit in fifth place in the Premier League table, which is a respectable position considering how far short of their best they have been so far. Luckily for them, a number of other teams expected to be their rivals, such as Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester United and Everton, have been dropping points regularly too. However, after such an impressive season last term, Liverpool came into this campaign with ambitions of winning the league, and they are already nine points adrift of Chelsea. The form that Jose Mourinho's side are in, that looks like it could be an unassailable gap already.

6.29pmThat is domestic issues, though, and tonight all of the focus is on European action. Liverpool are making their return to the Champions League for the first time since 2009 this season, but it has not been the most convincing of starts for them so far. They scraped past Ludogorets on matchday one, with Steven Gerrard's stoppage-time penalty handing them all three points, while their performance against Basel in Switzerland last time out left a lot to be desired. They lost that game 1-0, leaving them probably needing something out of the double-header with Real Madrid to progress.

6.31pmBrendan Rodgers may not be happy with how his team have performed so far, but so often it is said that the mark of a top team is to win when not at your best. That is exactly what Liverpool have started to do in recent weeks, with only one defeat - that loss at the hands of Basel - in their last five outings in all competitions. They have won three of those games, including the penalty shootout victory over Middlesbrough in the League Cup, while drawing the Merseyside derby courtesy of Phil Jagielka's injury-time stunner. They are less likely to be able to grind out a result against a team like Madrid, though, it must be said.

6.33pmPerhaps the biggest concern for Liverpool fans going into this match will be their ability to keep the visitors at bay. Last season they may have been confident of out-scoring any side around, but this year Madrid are in such good form and Liverpool are still looking shaky at the back. You suspect that it would take a vastly improved defensive performance from the hosts to stand any chance of getting something from this match. Rodgers's men have kept just one clean sheet in their 11 outings this season, a run that stretches back to one in 17 if you include the tail end of last season. That simply isn't good enough for a team hoping to compete with the best.

6.35pmAs far as the Champions League is concerned, they have a rather mixed record in recent times. As mentioned earlier, this is their first appearance in the tournament for the best part of five years, but they have only won two of their last six outings in the competition. Those victories came against Debrecen and Ludogorets, who are by no means worth mentioning in the same breath as the test they face against Real Madrid tonight.

6.37pmBoth of those victories did come at home, although even in from of the famous Anfield Champions League crowd they have been shaky in recent times. They have lost three of their last five home outings in the competition, with Lyon and Fiorentina among the team to come to Anfield and win back in 2009. It is a different story when taking into account their recent Europa League exploits, however, with Liverpool having lost just one of their last 18 home European matches overall.

6.39pmOf course, their overall European pedigree is not in doubt. When it comes to English clubs, the Reds are the kings of Europe with five European Cup/Champions League titles to their name. Only two clubs have managed more overall, and it is a good thing for both the club and the competition for Liverpool to be back amongst Europe's elite.

6.41pmThey have a very mixed record against sides from Spain in European competition, however, winning four and losing four of their 14 meetings. Their last fixture against a Spanish outfit came against the other Madrid giant as Atletico triumphed on away goals in the semi-finals of the Europa League back in 2009-10. Liverpool won the second leg 2-1, but given Atletico's 1-0 triumph in the first it was the La Liga outfit that progressed through to the final.

6.43pmLiverpool do, however, boast a unique record over the might of Real Madrid. They are the only team in history to have played Los Blancos more than once and still have a 100% record against them. In all they have faced Madrid three times over the years, and they have won on each occasions. Indeed, they have never even conceded a goal to Madrid in European competition, scoring six without replay over the three matches. That record includes victories in the 2008-9 season (more of them later), and also success in the 1981 European Cup final.

6.45pmTEAM NEWS: Before we get to the defending champions, it is time for some team news! The biggest headline is that Mario Balotelli once again leads the line for Liverpool, who make three changes to the side that beat QPR. Madrid, meanwhile, are without the injured duo of Bale and Ramos, but do boast a wealth of attacking talent that, of course, includes Ronaldo. Full team news for both sides coming right up...

6.47pmLIVERPOOL STARTING XI: Mignolet; Johnson, Skrtel, Lovren, Moreno; Gerrard, Allen; Henderson, Coutinho, Sterling; Balotelli

6.47pmLIVERPOOL SUBS: Jones, Toure, Manquillo, Can, Lallana, Markovic, Lambert

6.49pmREAL MADRID STARTING XI: Casillas; Arbeloa, Varane, Pepe, Marcelo; Modric, Kroos; Ronaldo, James, Isco; Benzema

6.49pmREAL MADRID SUBS: Navas, Khedira, Hernandez, Carvajal, Nacho, Illarra, Medran

6.51pmSo, what can we make of those two sides? Well, the only place to start when it comes to Liverpool is the man up front. Balotelli was seen as a risk when he joined the club for £16m, and so far it is a gamble that has not paid off. For a Liverpool team that is so used to following their striker's example, with Sturridge and Suarez full of energy last season, Balotelli's lack of movement seems to spread throughout the team. There was talk of him being dropped tonight but, with Lambert Rodgers's only other option, it was always likely that the Italian would start. Tonight would be a great moment for him to prove that he is indeed a big game player.

6.53pmLiverpool's main dangerman in the absence of Sturridge has been Sterling, who has quickly turned into a key player for club and country. The teenager was bright again against QPR, having a major role in all three of Liverpool's goals, but there will be constant attention to see whether fatigue is an issue with him after what happened before the England vs. Estonia match. Even so, he is the one Liverpool player you would say could really hurt Real tonight, and the hosts will need him to be at his best.

6.55pmHe is joined in midfield by Coutinho, who earns a start following his performance off the bench against QPR. The Brazilian has been very much hit and miss so far this season, but he changed the game at the weekend, scoring one and sending a fine through-ball to Sterling for the winning own goal. When he is on form, he can unlock any defence in the world, but often this season he has been a bit of a passenger. Henderson is never a passenger with his work rate, and he will need to get through a lot tonight to keep tabs on the Madrid midfield.

6.57pmBehind them, Joe Allen replaces Emre Can in midfield alongside Gerrard, who himself has another change of role. The skipper was moved into a move advanced position during the first half of the win over QPR but was ineffective as Liverpool could not get anything going in attack. He dropped deeper in the second half and had more of a say on the game, so it is no surprise to see Rodgers start him in that role tonight. The return of Allen from injury will also be a boost for the Reds, as he gives a steady partner to Gerrard in midfield, while also allowing Henderson to play in a more advanced role.

6.59pmWhile there are big concerns over Balotelli at the other end of the field, Liverpool's main worries tonight will be at the back. Mignolet has been criticised heavily for some of his performances this season, but he has certainly not been helped by those in front of him. Moreno is the only change to the backline that played against QPR, but they will know that Madrid will ruthlessly punish them if they put in a similar performance to the one from the weekend. Improvement is desperately needed in that area of the field more than any other for Liverpool.

7.01pmThat is particularly true when you have a certain Cristiano Ronaldo coming up against you. The reigning World Player of the Year is arguably in the finest form of an already legendary career and is the current favourite to retain the Ballon d'Or this year. His goalscoring figures are simply staggering, with 19 goals in 12 matches this season and 15 in just eight league games. That is more than Liverpool have managed as an entire team, while his overall record of 271 goals in 258 games for Madrid is simply ridiculous.

7.03pmThe Portuguese striker has only failed to score in one of Madrid's matches so far this season, and went through a spell not long ago where he netted three hat-tricks in the space of four league games. He is currently on 69 Champions League goals, level with Lionel Messi and just two short of the overall record of 71 goals, held by fellow Real Madrid legend Raul. A hat-trick tonight would see him break that, while a brace would draw him level. Interestingly, he actually has more goals away from home in the Champions League, with 35 on his travels compared to 32 in front of his own fans and two at a neutral venue. He has, however, only scored twice in nine meetings with Liverpool during his time at Manchester United, and has never scored at Anfield.

7.05pmEven if Ronaldo was to have an off-day, which never seems to happen, Madrid have a host of attacking talent that will also trouble Liverpool's defence tonight. James Rodriguez joined the club after a glittering World Cup, with many people believing that he should have been awarded the Golden Ball for his performances in Brazil. Isco would not be in the first-choice XI, but will be looking to use Bale's absence as a means of showing Ancelotti what he can do, especially with a potential place in El Clasico up for grabs. Benzema, meanwhile, can blow a little hot and cold at times but certainly knows where the goal is and can snap up a chance.

7.07pmIn midfield, Modric and Kroos supply plenty of creativity and Liverpool will be wary of the danger they pose with shots from range too. However, neither are exactly defensive midfielders that will break up play and, with Liverpool enjoying a fast counter-attack, that could prove to be an issue for the visitors. They do, however, have Khedira on the bench who would fulfil that role should Ancelotti spot a problem.

7.09pmIn defence, there is a return to Anfield for Arbeloa, who was in the Liverpool side the last time these two teams met. Carvajal is left on the bench, perhaps with one eye on El Clasico, but Varane does return to the side having missed out at the weekend due to illness. Defence is perhaps the only weak spot in this Madrid team, with a number of their players looking shaky at times, especially Casillas, who has drawn plenty of criticism in recent times for his performances.

7.11pmEven so, Madrid will come into this match expecting to come away with all three points, which would extend their winning streak in all competitions to eight matches. They have been in incredible form recently, recovering from a shaky start to the campaign that saw them lose two games in a row early on. They have been perfect since then, however, and they will be desperate to keep that winning streak going ahead of Saturday's clash with Barcelona.

7.13pmThey haven't simply been scraping results during that time either. They come into this one on the back of consecutive 5-0 victories, while during their seven-game winning streak they have scored a staggering 32 goals. In their eight league matches they have already netted 30 times, which is eight more than the next highest scorers. Perhaps the most impressive statistic of all is that they have scored five or more goals in half of their 10 outings this season.

7.15pmMadrid have now won their last four away outings, scoring 17 goals and conceding just three in that time, although Liverpool may take some confidence from that fact that Real Sociedad have hosted Los Blancos and won this season, so it can be done. Indeed, this current four-match unbeaten streak on their travels follows a run of four away games without a win in all competitions, since they hammered Bayern Munich 4-0 at the Allianz Arena in the semi-finals of last year's competition.

7.17pmThey are, of course, the current holders of this competition having triumphed over city rivals Atletico in Lisbon five months ago. That 4-1 win after extra time brought about the elusive 'La Decima' - the 10th European Cup that the club have craved for so long. They are undoubted kings of Europe and have reached the semi-finals at least in the last four seasons, making them understandable favourites to do so again this time around. Indeed, it would take a brave person to bet against them becoming the first side to retain the trophy in the Champions League era.

7.19pmIt has been something of a mixed bag from Madrid in the competition this season, however. It appeared as if normal order had been resumed on matchday one when they thrashed Basel 5-1 at the Bernabeu, but a tricky trip to face Ludogorets followed, and it almost proved to be a banana skin for the Spanish giants. They went 1-0 down in Sofia and needed a 77th-minute winner from Benzema to spare their blushes after Ronaldo had drawn them level from the spot.

7.21pmStill, they boast a perfect record in Group B despite that scare, putting them three points clear at the top of the standings. They will be expected to win every single one of their group games and progress through to the knockout stages in style. On paper, tonight's match is probably their toughest, with the Anfield crowd sure to create a memorable atmosphere on what is the first really big Champions League night since the competition returned to Merseyside.

7.23pmThe visitors have only lost one of their last 15 outings in the Champions League, a record made even more impressive by the fact that they have won 13 of those games. Their only defeat in that time came against Dortmund in the quarter-finals of last term's competition, while they have won all five of their outings since that loss in Germany.

7.25pmTheir away record is similarly impressive having lost just one of their last seven Champions League games on the road. They have won five and drawn one of the remaining six, including victory after extra time in last season's Lisbon final. Perhaps the most impressive display during that time came when they thrashed Bayern Munich 4-0 at the Allianz Arena, however, and Liverpool fans will be fearing a similar scoreline if Madrid are on top form this evening. When the Spanish giants are in full flow, very few teams can stop them.

7.27pmOf course, Carlo Ancelotti has his own pieces of history against Liverpool in this competition. He was the man in charge of AC Milan during the incredible 2005 final in Istanbul, where his side appeared to be cruising at half time with a 3-0 lead. However, a second-half fightback from a vastly inferior Liverpool side eventually forced penalties, and Shevchenko missed the decisive spot kick to hand Liverpool their fifth title. The Reds have a long and illustrious history, but that night trumps all others.

7.29pmAncelotti did get his own back two years later, however, as the same two sides once again met in the final. This time it was Milan who came out on top, triumphing 2-1 in Athens to put some of the demons to bed from that night in Istanbul. Ancelotti has, of course, spent time in the Premier League too, and his record against Liverpool while in charge of Chelsea stood at an even two wins and two defeats.

7.31pmIn guiding Madrid to their historic 10th European Cup last season, Ancelotti also created his own slice of history to have become the only man to have won the trophy three times with two different clubs. Only one other manager has picked up the European Cup/Champions League three times, and on each occasion it was with Madrid's opponents tonight. Bob Paisley won it in 1977, 1978 and 1981 with Liverpool and has since been joined in the record books by Ancelotti, who also won it in 2003 and 2007.

7.33pmMadrid have a superb goalscoring record in this competition having netted in 40 of their last 41 European outings. During that time, they have scored a staggering 112 goals at an average of 2.73 per game. Given Liverpool's defensive frailties it would be a massive shock should the visitors draw a blank this evening, so they will be expecting that impressive streak to continue tonight.

7.35pmPREDICTION: Right, we're just 10 minutes away from kickoff at Anfield, so it is time for a prediction. Real Madrid have never scored in three meeting with Liverpool, but if that were to continue tonight then I would be astounded. Ronaldo and Madrid have been banging the goals in for fun recently, while Liverpool can't buy a clean sheet at the moment. Liverpool need a vast improvement from their weekend performance, and they are usually a club that steps up to such big occasions, particularly with the crowd behind them. Even so, I can't see past a Madrid win tonight. I'll go for a 3-1 victory for Los Blancos.

7.37pmMadrid's record against English clubs is actually a very mixed one, despite their overall pedigree in this competition. They have won 11, drawn nine and lost 10 of their meetings with Premier League opposition, while Liverpool and Arsenal are the only teams they have played that they have failed to score past in the Champions League.

7.39pmTheir last visit to England came two years ago as Manchester United welcome Ronaldo back to Old Trafford, but the striker had the decisive say as he netted the winning goal in a 2-1 victory that dumped the Red Devils out of the competition in the last 16. Ronaldo has scored in five of his six matches against Premier League opposition since his move to Real Madrid, and will be confident of making it six from seven tonight.

7.41pmThey will not have fond memories of their last trip to Anfield, however. Liverpool ran riot back in March 2009, with Fernando Torres putting in one of the finest individual performances seen in the competition for a long time. He got one on the night, while Gerrard netted a brace and even Dossena got in on the act to cap off a historic 4-0 victory - Madrid's biggest ever Champions League defeat. Liverpool also won the reverse fixture 1-0 to claim a 5-0 win on aggregate and move into the quarter-finals.

7.43pmThe atmosphere, as expected, is electric inside Anfield ahead of this one. For such a high-profile match, you need a high-profile referee, and we certainly have that tonight. Nicola Rizzoli of Italy was in charge of the World Cup final in Brazil this summer as well as the 2013 Champions League final last year..

1 minKICKOFF: Here we got then! The most highly-anticipated Champions League match of the season so far gets underway as Balotelli and Coutinho kick us off in front of a raucous Anfield crowd. What an occasion this promises to be!

2 minLiverpool have an early chance to break as Isco gifts the ball straight to Balotelli, who can race at the defence. He has two men in support, including Sterling, but opts to go alone and gets tackle. Poor decision from the Italian.

4 minPredictably, Ronaldo is not the most popular man inside Anfield due to his Manchester United connections. Liverpool have dealt with him well in these very early stages, with Johnson and Henderson ganging up on him when he gets the ball.

6 minLiverpool have an early chance to break as Sterling lurks on the last shoulder of the defence. Pepe is struggling to contain the teenager, and Arbeloa comes across to block the winger off the ball, preventing him from getting on the end of a through-ball. The Liverpool fans want a free kick, but the referee says no.

8 minSAVE! Ronaldo finds a bit of space on the left and glides past Johnson with consummate ease. His original cross is blocked by Henderson, but moments later he cuts inside onto his right foot and shoots straight at Mignolet from 20 yards.

10 minThere were plenty of questions surrounding how Liverpool would approach this match against such dangerous opposition, and to their credit they have not sat back and defended so far. They have gone forward every chance they have had, with Sterling causing Pepe a few early problems.

11 minSAVE! Casillas is called into action for the first time tonight as Liverpool break quickly. The ball is worked out to the right before being slipped back to Gerrard around 30 yards from goal. The Liverpool skipper gives in to the demands of the crowd for him to shoot, and his dipping effort is tricky for the keeper, who parries it away.

13 minLiverpool win a couple of corners in quick succession, and it is clear that their tactic is to crowd out the near post and put Casillas under some pressure. Rodgers appears to have earmarked Casillas as a potential weakness, and that proves to be the case as he flaps at the second delivery before Madrid scramble it clear.

15 minMadrid haven't quite got into their rhythm in these early stages, and Rodgers will be delighted with how his side have started the match. The Reds have had plenty of reasons for encouragement so far while also dealing with Madrid's dangermen.

17 minBalotelli has looked a lot brighter so far this evening than he did against QPR. The Italian striker is making some good runs, and Pepe and Varane have struggled to deal with the movement from him and Sterling at times.

19 minUPDATE: There have been two goals already in the Champions League tonight, and both have come in Turkey where Dortmund have taken a 2-0 lead against Galatasaray. Aubameyang has both goals there, while Basel have been reduced to 10 men in their match against Ludogorets - the other Group B clash taking place tonight, of course.

21 minLiverpool really struggled from set pieces at the weekend, and they have their first test from a corner here as Gerrard puts it behind. They half deal with the initial ball as it drops to Rodriguez, whose effort is well over the crossbar.

23 minGOAL! Liverpool 0-1 Real Madrid (Cristiano Ronaldo)

23 minDespite Liverpool's positive start to the match it is Madrid who break the deadlock, and they do it in some style. Ronaldo picks the ball up in midfield and exchanges passes with Benzema before finding James. The Colombian dinks a lovely ball over the defence for the striker, who has burst forward, and he then flicks a beautiful finish into the corner. What a lovely goal that is, and Ronaldo scores yet again.

25 minMadrid had just been gaining an element of control over the match before that goal as Liverpool's high-tempo start began to wane a little. This Madrid team can punish you at any moment, and that goal seemed to come out of very little. There didn't appear to be much danger, but Ronaldo can score from anywhere.

27 minMuch better from Balotelli as he spins away from Marcelo before racing down the touchline. However, he looks up and only sees a tightly-marked Sterling in the middle, and his cross is nowhere near connecting with the sole red shirt.

28 minCLOSE! Madrid come forward again, and it is Ronaldo once more who poses the danger. The Portuguese striker picks up the ball on the edge of the box and shifts it to his right to gain a yard of space from Gerrard. He curls an effort towards goal, but it flies a couple of yards wide.

30 minGOAL! Liverpool 0-2 Real Madrid (Karim Benzema)

30 minThe pressure continues to build on Liverpool, and it tells once again here as Madrid double there advantage. After an initial attack is repelled they recycle the ball and give it to Kroos on the edge of the box. The German picks out Benzema with a lovely cross toward the back post, and Benzema rises highest to loop a wonderful header over a stranded Mignolet.

32 minMadrid are in complete control of this one now. They are dominating possession and moving the ball really nicely, with Liverpool unable to get out of defence. The hosts started the match brightly, but the intensity has since dropped off and Madrid have taken full advantage.

34 minThe visitors just look so comfortable on the ball here. Every player is finding pockets of space to manoeuvre, and the likes of Kroos and Modric are pulling the strings from midfield. Ronaldo is popping up all over the place too, and Liverpool can't quite handle that.

35 minYELLOW CARD! Sterling looks to lead the counter-charge as he skips away from Arbeloa before flying past Kroos, who tries to cynically block the winger. He doesn't quite manage it, but the play is called back and the German becomes the first man in the book tonight.

37 minBetter from Liverpool as they move the ball around nicely inside the Madrid half. They break into the visitors' box with Henderson, but his cut-back only finds a group of white shirts in the middle of the area.

39 minMadrid have looked a little shaky in their own half at times, with Isco in particular giving the ball away in dangerous areas on a couple of occasions. If Liverpool can take advantage of that before half time then they could be back in the game, but right now it is hard to see any way back for the hosts.

41 minGOAL! Liverpool 0-3 Real Madrid (Karim Benzema)

41 minThere were moments of quality with the first two goals, but this is a really poor one for Liverpool to concede. Again it was a set piece that caused the problems as no red shirt attacked a corner, allowing the ball to hit Pepe at the back post. The Madrid defender reacts quickest to poke the ball past Mignolet, and Benzema is in the right place to flick it home.

43 minCLOSE! Almost an immediate response from Liverpool as they look to claw what would surely only be a consolation goal back. Balotelli is released down the right flank and pulls a good low cross back to Allen on the edge of the box. The Welshman fires a clever first-time effort towards the far post, but it flies inches past the upright.

45 minThere will be a minimum of one minute added time at the end of this first half.

45+1 minOFF THE POST! Coutinho almost comes up with something out of the top draw to pull a goal back for Liverpool. The Brazilian skips to the right of his marker before unleashing a magnificent strike from 30 yards that smashes against the post with Casillas beaten.

45+1 minHALF TIME: Liverpool 0-3 Real Madrid

8.38pmWell, that was simply a brutal footballing lesson from Madrid in that first half. They weathered an early Liverpool storm before decisively picking the hosts apart to take a commanding lead into half time. Still, 3-0 down at the break against a side managed by Carlo Ancelotti - Liverpool have been here before. A comeback looks even less likely here than it did on that famous night in Istanbul, though, it must be said.

8.40pmThe opening goal came from a predictable source as Ronaldo finally got his first strike at Anfield, and it was a beauty as well. The former Manchester United gave the ball to James before charging into the box to latch onto a dinked return ball over the top. Liverpool looked to have the situation under a certain degree of control, but Ronaldo still managed to flick a magnificent first-time volley into the far corner. It was a moment of magic from the in-form striker.

8.42pmThe other two goals came from Benzema, and both were avoidable from Liverpool's point of view. The first was a looping cross from Kroos to the French striker at the back post, where Johnson had lost his man. The header was superb as he looped it over a stranded Mignolet, but it was a poor goal for the hosts to concede. The third was the worst of the lot, however, as Benzema flicked an effort over the line after some more poor defending from a corner.

8.44pmLiverpool came within inches of pulling a goal back just before half time, which would have made things a little more interesting at the break. It was Coutinho who had the effort, skipping away from his man before firing a superb 30-yard effort towards the far corner. Casillas was well beaten in the Madrid goal, but thankful to hear the thump of the ball striking the post behind him.

8.46pmLiverpool actually made a very bright start to the match, pressing Madrid high up the field and forcing the visitors into mistakes. The likes of Kroos, Modric and Ronaldo were given very little time on the ball, and that was allowing Liverpool to force the tempo of the game. However, the intensity began to wane after the 20th minute, and Madrid took full advantage by taking the game away from Liverpool. They have dominated from that moment on, and the three-goal margin does not flatter them.

8.48pmEvery Madrid player now seems to have plenty of time on the ball, and that is allowing them to control everything about the game. Kroos and Modric in particular are pulling the strings from midfield, and the likes of Henderson, Sterling and Coutinho need to put them under more pressure. Liverpool find themselves in a tricky situation now as the temptation will be to go into damage limitation mode, but this Anfield crowd want to see attacking football.

46 minKICKOFF: Madrid get us back underway for this second half, and there has been a change at the break as Adam Lallana has replaced Balotelli. Sterling has gone up front, with Lallana slipping behind him into midfield. Balotelli actually swapped his shirt with Pepe at the break, which I'm sure will not please the Liverpool fans.

48 minDecent start to the half from Liverpool, who have taken control of the ball early on. They are certainly not staying back and attempting to limit it to 3-0 here, instead pushing men forward in search of a goal that could give them some momentum.

50 minSHOT! Madrid look to hit Liverpool on the break, and they certainly have the players to do it. The hosts rebuff the initial thrust from the Spanish giants, but the ball comes back out to James, who cuts inside and curls an effort high and wide of the far post. You could see what he was trying to do there.

52 minLiverpool continue the pile the pressure on as Madrid fail to fully clear their lines for a corner. Skrtel tries a through-ball to Sterling, but Lallana just gets a touch that takes it away from the youngster, who would have been through on goal.

54 minLiverpool have started this half well, but they will be wary of letting the intensity levels drop again. That is exactly what happened in the first half, and they were made to pay for it. They can't afford to let that happen again.

55 minCHANCE! Good chance for Madrid to create a fourth goal here as Benzema skips away down the left touchline. He is in acres of space and moves into the box, looking up for a teammate. He has Ronaldo and James in support and opts to look for the former, but Lovren reads it and makes the interception.

57 minRonaldo has hit plenty of great efforts in his time, but this isn't one of them. He goes to fetch a wayward cross from Marcelo before cutting inside and swinging his left foot at it from a tough angle. He is just one goal short of Raul's all-time Champions League record now, but this one flies well wide and ends up closer to the corner flag.

59 minLiverpool are looking a lot more fluid up front since Balotelli's departure, with Sterling and Lallana often swapping positions to keep the Madrid defence on their toes. There have been glimpses of it causes problems so far, but nothing yet for Casillas to worry about.

61 minIt may not be long before we see Ancelotti making a few changes with the Clasico against Barcelona surely in the back of his mind. You can be sure that Ronaldo won't want to come off, but Ancelotti will be weighing up the risk-reward ratio of keeping the striker on for much longer.

62 minSAVE! Dreadful defending from Liverpool here. Ronaldo carries the ball forward and Johnson just about manages to get a foot in on the striker. Lovren has a chance to get rid of the danger, but instead plays a short pass to Skrtel, who can't beat Ronaldo to the ball. The Madrid man fires a powerful strike at goal from a tight angle, but Mignolet makes the stop.

64 minCHANCE! Oh my word, what a huge chance for Ronaldo to equal the record! It is beautiful football from the visitors as Isco gets in behind Johnson, knocking the ball back for Benzema, who in turn cushions a pass into the path of Ronaldo. He only has Mignolet to beat, and you would bet your house on him just sliding it in, but Mignolet makes the save with his foot. That was too easy for Madrid, and it was almost as if Ronaldo had already assumed that he'd scored.

66 minUPDATE: Things are going pretty well for the other Madrid club too, with Atletico 3-0 up against Malmo in the Spanish capital. Elsewhere, Olympiacos still lead Juventus 1-0, while Leverkusen are two up against Zenit.

68 minLIVERPOOL SUBS: A double change from Rodgers as Jordan Henderson makes way to be replaced by Emre Can, while Coutinho also makes way in favour of Lazar Markovic.

70 minSAVE! Casillas is called into a rare moment of action as Sterling picks the ball up just inside the area before curling his effort straight at the keeper. He really should catch it in truth, but contents himself with tipping it over the top.

72 minCHANCE! Big chance for Liverpool to get a goal back here! Lallana and Moreno link up down the left to set up Sterling, who in turn plays a low pass across the box. It comes to Markovic, who for some reason chooses to play it inside once again to Allen when he should have gone for goal himself. In the end, it doesn't fall to anyone and the flag comes up for offside.

73 minCLOSE! Almost a fourth for Madrid as again they burst forward with pace. Benzema slides a square pass to James on the edge of the box, but his shot slides narrowly past the upright.

75 minREAL MADRID SUB: Ronaldo indeed does not last the distance as he makes way to be replaced by Sami Khedira for the final 15 minutes.

77 minMadrid are controlling the ball now as they look to just take the sting out of proceedings. They will be happy coasting to full time with this lead, but they have also looked dangerous on the break on more than one occasion in this second half, so don't count out them adding to their lead.

79 minThe atmosphere inside Anfield is getting increasingly flat here, perhaps understandably. It was, of course, rocking inside the stadium at the beginning of the game, but the three goals in the space of a little more than 15 minutes in the first half have quitened the crowd down.

80 minSAVE! Again Madrid go in search of that fourth goal as the ball break out to Modric around 25 yards from goal. He tries to curl an effort into the corner, but it lacks power and accuracy and is easy for Mignolet to save.

82 minREAL MADRID SUB: Another change for the visitors as Kroos makes way to be replaced by Asier Illarramendi.

84 minCHANCE! Decent chance for Liverpool to pull a goal back as a cross arrives into a dangerous area inside the box, with Sterling attacking it well. However, the Madrid defence do just about enough to deal with it and turn the ball over for a corner.

85 minREAL MADRID SUB: Ancelotti makes his third and final change of the night as Marcelo makes way to be replaced by Nacho for the final five minutes. Marcelo has had a very good game this evening.

86 minCan looks to come up with something special as a consolation for Liverpool, winding up an effort from range and drilling the ball towards goal with plenty of power. However, he can't keep it down as it goes flying over the crossbar.

88 minThis match has been in a bit of a lull for the last 15 minutes or so, and you sense that both teams would have been happy with the final whistle going a while ago. The match was over as a contest before half time, but Liverpool have done well not to collapse after that first half.

90 minYou'll Never Walk Alone rings around Anfield as the fans show their support for the team despite a tough evening. Barely anyone has left, and to be honest they probably acknowledge that they are watching a special team in Madrid. Liverpool have simply been beaten by the better team tonight.

90+2 minFULL TIME: Liverpool 0-3 Real Madrid

9.39pmThe referee brings an end to a fairly low-key second half, with Real Madrid doing the business before the break to continue their 100% record in this season's Champions League. It was a classy performance from the Spanish giants, who simply outclassed Liverpool in the opening 45 minutes and were certainly worthy of the victory tonight. The first big Champions League game back at Anfield ends in disappointment for the hosts, whose participation in the competition is now hanging by a thread.

9.41pmThe good news for the Reds is that Ludogorets have scored a late goal to take the lead against 10-man Basel in Bulgaria, which would see the minnows draw level on three points with Liverpool and the Swiss champions. Had Basel won tonight then it would have been an uphill battle for Liverpool, but that Ludogorets goal leaves the race for second place wide open.

9.43pmThe opening goal of this match at Anfield tonight came courtesy of Cristiano Ronaldo as he flicked a sublime volley past Mignolet following a slick interchange with James Rodriguez. It really was a superb strike from the Portuguese man, who continued his staggering goalscoring form this season. Benzema made it 2-0 with a looping header shortly afterwards before doubling his personal tally with a scrappy third just before the break.

9.45pmRight, that is all we have time for this evening! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for what was an entertaining clash at Anfield as Real Madrid cruised to a comfortable 3-0 victory over Liverpool in the Champions League. I will leave you with our match report, and be sure to stick around for reaction, analysis and player ratings, which will be up shortly. From me, though, it is goodbye for now!

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Steven Gerrard #8 of Liverpool infront of the home fans after scoring the opening goal from a free kick during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield on September 27, 2014
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