Real Madrid came from behind at Anfield to beat Liverpool 5-2 in a pulsating clash in the first leg of their last 16 Champions League encounter.

The Reds started on the front foot and found themselves a goal to the good in the 4th minute.

Impressive play on the right-hand side from Mo Salah saw him create space and find Darwin Nunez in the penalty area.

Nunez flicked the ball past Thibaut Courtois with the inside of his right foot to give Liverpool the lead.

It was the quickest ever Champions League goal at Anfield.

Salah continued to be a threat as the home side maintained a high tempo.

Not long after the goal, the Egyptian went on a mazy run but fired the ball wide.

However, he didn’t have to wait long for his efforts to be rewarded.

He pounced on a calamitous error from Courtois to double Liverpool’s lead in the 14th minute.

Despite being under no real pressure, the Belgian goalkeeper took one too many touches and Salah was the grateful recipient to poke home from close range.

It was Salah’s eighth Champions League goal this season, the most by anyone in the competition.

Real Madrid quickly responded though and showed exactly why they’re the current holders.

They reduced the arrears in the 21st minute thanks to Carlos Vinicius Jr.

Despite being surrounded by Liverpool defenders, the Brazilian unleashed a right-footed strike beyond an outstretched Alisson to find the bottom corner.

The Spanish giants were forced into a change shortly before the half hour mark.

David Alaba went off injured and was replaced by Nacho.

It may have come as a slight relief to the left-back as Salah was causing him all sorts of problems.

Both sides continued to pour forward in a riveting half of action.

Madrid came close to equalising after Vinicius got on the end of a Luka Modric corner but was thwarted by a sprawling Alisson.

Vinicius was proving to be a massive danger and levelled the match in the 36th minute.

But it came from another goalkeeping blunder.

A misjudged clearance from Alisson cannoned off Vinicius and looped into the net.

The visitors almost found themselves in front before half-time.

After a Trent Alexander-Arnold free-kick was collected by Courtois, Madrid broke quickly but Rodrygo was unable to get on the end of Vinicius’ low cross from the left-hand side.

The second half started in disastrous fashion for Liverpool.

Madrid were awarded a free kick close to the corner on the left-hand side.

From the resulting set-piece, an unmarked Eder Militao had the simplest of tasks to head home from Modric’s delivery in the 47th minute.

Liverpool soon had claims for a penalty waved away as Nunez went down from a Dani Carvajal challenge.

Then, in the 55th minute, Madrid went into a 4-2 lead.

Benzema scores for Real Madrid v Liverpool Feb 21 2023
Benzema scores for Madrid v Liverpool Feb 21 2023 – Alamy Images under agreed licence

Karim Benzema played a one-two with Rodrygo and the French marksman directed a left-footed shot towards goal from just inside the penalty area.

Unfortunately for Joe Gomez, the ball deflected off him and past a hapless Alisson before he had time to react.

Madrid started to flex their muscles as Liverpool failed to match their levels of the first 20 minutes.

Benzema scored his second and the visitors’ fifth in the 67th minute.

After being played in by the impressive Vinicius, Benzema calmly rounded Alisson and converted from 12 yards.

Liverpool made several changes in a bid to give them some hope ahead of the second-leg but it was to no avail.

The 14-time winners head back to the Bernabeu with a commanding advantage.