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Real Madrid overcame a frantic start at Anfield to cruise into a commanding 3-0 halftime lead against Liverpool in their Champions League group stage match. Liverpool had come out of the blocks at a thunderous tempo spurred on by their typically passionate home support. But in the 23rd minute, Madrid’s class told.
Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring after getting a brilliantly precise lifted return pass from James Rodriguez that took out Liverpool’s defense and allowed him to strike expertly first-time into the far corner of the net on the half-volley. Seven minutes later Madrid’s lead was doubled, with Liverpool’s defensive fragility beginning to show. Toni Kroos curled a cross to the far post and Karim Benzema was allowed to rise and loop a fine header over goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and into the far corner of the net. Soon it was 3-0. This time Benzema had a far simpler task of turning the ball into an unguarded net after Liverpool poorly failed to deal with a corner. Philippe Coutinho hit the post with a fierce strike right before the interval, but Liverpool have it all to do simply to make the match a contest in the second half.