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Champions League: Real Madrid crushes Liverpool at Anfield

By James Masters, CNN
updated 6:01 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Cristiano Ronaldo scored his first ever goal at Anfield to give Real Madrid the perfect start against Liverpool. Cristiano Ronaldo scored his first ever goal at Anfield to give Real Madrid the perfect start against Liverpool.
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Rampant Ronaldo
Heading to victory
Real deal
No way through
Goal for Griezmann
Dortmund delight
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Real Madrid thrashes Liverpool 3-0 in Champions League
  • Cristiano Ronaldo opened scoring
  • Karim Benzema grabbed two
  • Juventus stunned by Olympiakos

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(CNN) -- Booed and jeered upon his entrance, cheered upon his exit -- perhaps even the most bitter of rivals are finally ready to submit to the mercurial talents of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Few former Manchester United players have been given the ovation which Ronaldo received from an Anfield crowd, but then again, this is not just any player.

Ronaldo had never scored at Anfield during his time with United -- it was a statistic which took just 23 minutes to become history.

A 3-0 victory over Liverpool, inspired by Ronaldo, ensured Real Madrid made it nine points out of nine in Group B.

A 70th Champions League strike means he is just one behind the all-time leading scorer, Raul, the man so revered by all at Real.

The record will soon fall, Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, who has 69, will set records which few would have ever imagined possible.

For Real, a club record seventh consecutive European victory was assured courtesy of Ronaldo's breathtaking strike and Karim Benzema's double.

For all the pre-match hype of another 'special European night' at Anfield, it was all pretty routine.

Liverpool, the five-time winner, was blown away by the pace and power of Real as Ronaldo took center stage.

"It was special, my first goal at Anfield and I am very happy -- amazing," Ronaldo told Sky Sports

"We knew that Anfield is a difficult place, but we were fantastic in the first 45 minutes and we deserved to win.

"I'm not worried about the Champions League goalscoring record. I know I will beat it. Me and Lionel Messi are very close.

"The best thing is that the team has nine points.

"Can we retain the cup? Why not? We are taking it step-by-step but we are going to try.

"We know it will be tough but we are positive and it is possible."

No team has ever managed to retain the Champions League title since it was revamped into its current format in 1992, but Real will certainly go close in it attempt to record an unprecedented 11th triumph.

A day after Bayern Munich had ransacked Rome by scoring seven, Real arrived at another of European football's most famous fortresses and blew it to smithereens.

Bayern Munich's Dutch playmaker Arjen Robben is mobbed by his teammates after scoring the opening goal against AS Roma in the Italian capital. The German champions would go on to score six more. Bayern Munich's Dutch playmaker Arjen Robben is mobbed by his teammates after scoring the opening goal against AS Roma in the Italian capital. The German champions would go on to score six more.
Roma rout
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Santiago Vergini cuts a forlorn figure as Southampton celebrates a goal in the 8-0 rout of Sunderland at St Mary's. Santiago Vergini cuts a forlorn figure as Southampton celebrates a goal in the 8-0 rout of Sunderland at St Mary's.
Weekend football action
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"It's Rome," jokes James Pallotta, the president of AS Roma, explaining his decision to invest in the Italian football club. "It's Rome," jokes James Pallotta, the president of AS Roma, explaining his decision to invest in the Italian football club.
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A new Roman Empire? A new Roman Empire?

This was a result that most would have anticipated given Liverpool's stuttering start to the season but the way in which Real scythed through its opponents was nothing short of exquisite.

Deprived of Gareth Bale, who remained in the Spanish capital nursing an injury, Real was able to call on its hosts of stars as it taught Liverpool a lesson in the art of attacking football.

In James Rodriguez, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Isco, Real boasted a midfield which most teams could only dream of.

While Liverpool, so inconsistent following the success of last season and the departure of Luis Suarez, has struggled in recent weeks, Real has been on cruise control.

Seven consecutive victories which have yielded 32 goals meant Real arrived as favorites at a stadium where it had never managed to win before.

And yet, any doubts over its ability to break its three-game losing streak against Liverpool were soon extinguished.

The breakthrough came after 23 minutes -- and it was worth waiting for.

Ronaldo, who appeared to induce panic each and every time he as much as breathed, laid the ball off to James Rodriguez, who in turn produced a quite sumptuous pass over the top of the Liverpool defense.

With those in red caught watching the flight of the ball, Ronaldo ran in behind and produced a finish which belied belief, flicking the ball into the far corner with unerring accuracy.

That strike, the forward's 20th in 13 games this season, seemed to leave Liverpool winded -- a blow from which it never recovered.

Seven minutes later, the contest was all but over as Benzema pulled away at the far post to send a looping header into the opposite corner following rather questionable Liverpool defending.

In the three previous meetings between the two sides, Real had never managed a goal, let alone a victory.

Defeated 4-0 on its last visit to Anfield five years ago, Real appeared determined to exorcize its demons.

A third goal followed just before the interval, Benzema once again the grateful recipient of some more woeful home defending.

To its credit, Liverpool refused to give up after falling three goals behind and only the post denied Philippe Coutinho from dragging his side back into the contest.

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The second half was a rather tame affair as Liverpool briefly attempted to launch a response, though without the disappointing Mario Balotelli, who was withdrawn at the interval.

With the first Clasico of the season on Saturday, Real took its foot off the gas, though more goals should have been forthcoming.

Ronaldo should have added a fourth midway through the second half after the visiting side had cut through the Liverpool defense with embarrassing ease, but for once, the Portuguese forward was unable to find a way past goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.

In the end, Ronaldo had to settle for a solitary strike and an early exit as he was replaced with 15 minutes remaining as Carlo Ancelotti, the Real Madrid coach, began to look towards Saturday's clash with Barcelona.

"It was the best we have played all season," said Ancelotti.

"We were fantastic in the first half and then controlled the game. I had to say nothing to the players, they played really well.

"I am lucky to manage this group of players."

Liverpool will face Real once more in a fortnight's time in the return game but it's chances of qualification remain in the balance.

"The first 22 minutes of the game we were excellent but from the first goal to halftime, Real Madrid showed their real quality," Brendan Rodgers, the Liverpool manager, told Sky Sports.

"They were terrific. Second half we played for pride and we were outstanding, the players kept going, they didn't stop. We defended poorly but I can't ask any more.

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Inter-regnum
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Inter Milan\'s new owner Erick Thohir Inter Milan's new owner Erick Thohir
He wears the number 10 on his back and he's spent the past decade delighting football fans across the world. Lionel Messi's achievements for Barcelona have led to many branding the Argentine the greatest player of all time. After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Messi has taken his place among the football gods. He wears the number 10 on his back and he's spent the past decade delighting football fans across the world. Lionel Messi's achievements for Barcelona have led to many branding the Argentine the greatest player of all time. After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Messi has taken his place among the football gods.
Lionel Messi: A decade of goals
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Mario Balotelli has had a low key start to his Liverpool career after a big-money move from Italian giants AC Milan. The English club finished runner-up in the Premier League last season but have stuttered so far, losing six of its 13 competitive fixtures. Mario Balotelli has had a low key start to his Liverpool career after a big-money move from Italian giants AC Milan. The English club finished runner-up in the Premier League last season but have stuttered so far, losing six of its 13 competitive fixtures.
Super Mario?
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Super Mario\'s last chance? Super Mario's last chance?

"You can see Real's quality. Speed, technique; you can see why they are champions.

"The second and third goals are from set-pieces again, it's an issue for us and we have to be better than that."

The defeat leaves Liverpool on three points, level with Bulgarian side Ludogorets and Swiss club Basel.

Ludogorets claimed its first ever Champions League victory with a 1-0 win over Basel.

Juventus beaten

Elsewhere, Juventus suffered a shock 1-0 defeat away at Olympiakos.

The Italian side, top of Serie A, was beaten by a Pajtim Kasami strike as the Greeks made it two home wins out of two.

Atletico Madrid, which was beaten on its visit to Greece, eased to a 5-0 victory over Swedish club Malmo.

Atletico, beaten in last season's final, scored all five goals in the second half.

In Group D, Borussia Dortmund made it three wins out of three with an emphatic 4-0 thrashing of Galatasaray.

Arsenal sits second after scoring twice in the final two minutes to steal a 2-1 win at Anderlecht.

In Group C, Bayer Leverkusen overcame Zenit St Petersburg 2-0, while Monaco and Benfica finished goalless.

Read: Where is Mario Balotelli?

Read: Cristiano Ronaldo's Facebook fan club

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