Karim Benzema said Real Madrid needed time to get going but showed their true colours eventually as they thrashed Liverpool 5-2 at Anfield in the Champions League last 16 first leg on Tuesday.
The France forward dedicated the win to late Madrid great Amancio Amaro, who died at 83 earlier in the day.
“It’s a very important night for us, I want to dedicate this win to our honorary president, Amancio,” Madrid captain Benzema told Movistar.
“This victory is for him, with personality, goals. We want this Champions League.
“It was a beautiful game for everyone because we started a bit badly, we know Liverpool with their fans put on a lot of pressure, but after 15, 20 minutes, then we saw Real Madrid.”
Liverpool went two goals ahead at the start but Madrid came back with a vengeance to run out comfortable winners.
Vinicius Junior, who netted the winner against Jurgen Klopp’s side in the 2022 final, hit a brace, as did Benzema, while Eder Militao scored a header.
“We know football is always difficult, they started well,” added Benzema.
“Two errors after 14 minutes, we need to do more — what we did until the end.
“A goal can change everything and it happened today.”
Darwin Nunez sent Liverpool ahead with a fine flicked finish and then Mohamed Salah netted the second for the hosts after an uncharacteristic error from Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
The Belgian international gave the ball away in front of goal to the grateful Salah, who tucked it away.
“It was a bit of bad luck to mess it up like that, I controlled it well and at first I wanted to pass it but I saw Salah stopped and so I said I’ll go to my right foot, but it bounced off my knee,” Courtois told Movistar.
“Vini’s goal allowed us to breathe and then Alisson did the same (as me) and on the counter we are strong.”
Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson had kicked the ball away under pressure from Vinicius and the ball hit the Brazilian and flew into the net to level the score at 2-2.
Courtois did not think the win necessarily marked out record 14 time winners Madrid as clear favourites to lift the trophy again.
“Madrid will always be in the fight until the end, (but) I think Liverpool aren’t the same team they were last year. They are more vulnerable at the back.”