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Liverpool 0-0 Real Madrid (1-3 agg): Reds fluff their lines as Los Blancos reach last four

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Real Madrid reached the Champions League semi-finals for the first time since 2018 after a 0-0 draw at Anfield secured a 3-1 aggregate triumph over Liverpool.

Zinedine Zidane’s depleted side had seized control of the tie in the first meeting a week ago, Vinicius Junior the hero as he scored twice in the Spanish capital.

A makeshift defence stood up to the challenge in a scoreless return fixture, setting up a two-legged showdown with another English side in Chelsea for a place in this year’s final in Istanbul.

The Ataturk Stadium holds fond memories for Liverpool – they were crowned European champions at the venue in 2005 – but there will be no return trip this year, leaving the focus for Jurgen Klopp’s squad on securing a top-four finish in the Premier League.

The Reds will look back with regret on a disappointing display on the road, though they had a number of clear-cut chances to reduce the deficit on Merseyside.

Mohamed Salah was unable to convert a Sadio Mane square pass inside two minutes as the hosts started at a frenetic pace, his first-time attempt aimed straight at Thibaut Courtois.

The Egyptian forward – one of the more consistent performers in a season Klopp recently described as “bumpy” – wastefully fired over following superb work by Gini Wijnaldum, who also failed to keep an attempt of his own down as Madrid made it to the break unscathed.

Liverpool had a let-off when Karim Benzema’s attempted pass to Vinicius deflected off Ozan Kabak and onto a post, much to the relief of Nathaniel Phillips after he had lost possession to present the counter-attacking opportunity.

Roberto Firmino tested Courtois again soon after the interval, while another on-target attempt from the Brazilian midway through the second half was blocked superbly by compatriot Eder Militao.

Vinicius was denied by Alisson in a one-on-one situation as Madrid’s run of scoring in 23 straight knockout games came to an end, but more importantly they held firm at the back to seal their progression.

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