What happened to Rafa Benitez outside Anfield as Liverpool fans show they won’t forget

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The moments you may not have picked up on in Liverpool’s 5-2 loss to Real Madrid.

Liverpool suffered a sobering loss to Real Madrid to send them on the brink of exiting the Champions League.

The Reds fell to a 5-2 defeat in the last-16 first leg at Anfield on Tuesday evening - despite being in the driving seat after 14 minutes.

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Goals from Darwin Nunez and Mo Salah sent Jurgen Klopp’s side into raptures. But just like in the 2018 and 2022 finals, Real had Liverpool’s number. Doubles from Vinicius Jr. and Karim Benzema, along with an Eder Militao header, condemned the home side to a chastening reverse.

Those were the main moments from the game but here are some other things that were also noticed.

Benitez mobbed

Given the magnitude and grandeur of the tie, it was scarcely a surprise that legends from both clubs wanted a first-hand glimpse.

Liverpool icon Steven Gerrard was on punditry duty for BT Sport while Real legend Roberto Carlos was in the stands - having soaked up the pre-match atmosphere in the city’s most famous street, Matthew Street.

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Rafa Benitez was another on media duty for the game, having managed both clubs in his career. The Spaniard is still revered as an Anfield hero after masterminding Liverpool’s remarkable Champions League triumph in 2005.

But despite engineering arguably the greatest in the club’s history in Istanbul, he was given no special treatment to the rest of those in the press. He still had to pick up his stadium pass from a portacabin off Stanley Park like us mere media mortals.

And as Benitez made his way back towards the ground, hardly disguised in a dark suit that made him stand out from scarf-laden supporters, he was indeed spotted.

Those around the Spaniard took their chance to grab photos with the former Kop boss, while his name was als

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UEFA boos

Liverpool fans persistently pled innocence as they were tried to blame for the shambolic and abohorrent scenes in Paris when these two sides met in last year’s final. Despite being tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed and robbed by locals, Kopites had the finger pointed at them by French authorities and UEFA.

Finally, justice was served last week when an independent report published cleared Reds and Madrid fans were cleared In fact, the report said it was lucky no-one died and supporters were instrumental for saving lives.

UEFA won’t be let off the hook that easily. Now Liverpool fans want their justice. And even if that arrives, the authority likely won’t be forgiven.

Banners of ‘UEFA liars’ and ‘Champions League of deniers’ adorned the Kop before kick-off. And as the Champions League anthem was played, usually a spine-tingling and iconic moment before any European game, widespread boos could be heard. They were then followed up by chants of ‘F*ck UEFA’.

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Madrid fans’ class

While there may be a modern-day rivalry on the pitch between these two European giants, the relationship between supporters is as cordial as things could be. The unsavoury scenes in Paris have seemingly united both stronger.

A period of silence for Real legend and honoury president Amancio Amaro, who died on the day of the game, was observed impeccably by everyone despite the late notice.

And as those who’d made their way from Spain celebrated their win at full-time, along with leaving for the turnstiles, they bellowed ‘Liverpool, Liverpool’ as well as applauding.

Those who make the trip to Madrid for the return leg won’t be expecting another European miracle. Four away goals is virtually an impossible task. But travelling Kopites will undoubtedly replicate the sort of respect they were shown.

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