IT felt like the night we may look back upon as the most significant step in Liverpool’s quest for the Quadruple — without Jurgen Klopp’s men even having played.
When Manchester City imploded on a frenzied night at the Bernabeu, you can bet that Klopp would have been chuckling into his beer.
For while Real Madrid were magnificent in their belief and desire, the Reds boss will be convinced his side can swarm all over Carlo Ancelotti’s ageing side in the final in Paris, three weeks tomorrow.
And if City slip up in their four remaining Premier League matches, Wednesday night’s almighty choke will be regarded as the trigger for them surrendering a one-point lead at the summit.
City were the polar opposite of Klopp’s ‘mentality monsters’ in the Bernabeu.
While Real and Liverpool, with their mighty European histories, expect to win these ties, City frequently freeze.
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When Karim Benzema netted the winning penalty, there were still 25 minutes remaining but City looked physically and mentally spent and barely threatened.
None of Pep Guardiola’s squad have won the greatest prize in club football — other than back-up keeper Scott Carson with Liverpool — and the manager has now failed to do so in 11 years.
“Football’s unpredictable sometimes,” said Guardiola, after his team’s late collapse.
But it’s not always unpredictable. City did not buy the world-class goalscorer they needed last summer.
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And while that has not affected them in the vast majority of games, it certainly did in the first leg against Real at the Etihad, when City dominated but managed only to gain a one-goal lead.
It also affected them in the 2-2 home draw against their only title rivals, when poor finishing allowed Klopp’s men off the hook last month.
Guardiola scoffs at all this, gets bored and tetchy at the repetitive nature of the questioning — but it is only repetitive because it’s true.
For a second straight season, City do not have anyone in the top eight of the Premier League scoring charts.
Erling Haaland may change all that next term but the Norwegian goal machine is increasingly injury-prone.
Before that, Guardiola must revive his side for a title run-in which looks a whole lot trickier when the psychological trauma of tossing away a two-goal aggregate lead in the dying minutes in the Bernabeu, is added to City’s burdens.
An in-form Newcastle arrive at the Etihad for Sunday’s Arabian derby — a fixture which certainly won’t be sponsored by Amnesty International but which will test City’s bouncebackability.
Then back-to-back away matches at European-chasing Wolves and West Ham, before a final-day home match with Aston Villa, where Steven Gerrard could finally win the Premier League for Liverpool.
One possible twist is the idea of Harry Kane (below) — the man City couldn’t sign last summer — denting Liverpool at Anfield tomorrow night, in the toughest of the Reds’ four league fixtures.
Spurs did the double over City — while just West Ham, Leicester and Crystal Palace have managed to inflict even a single defeat on the Premier League’s dominant duo this season.
But if Liverpool, who comprehensively survived their own Champions League semi-final scare at Villarreal on Tuesday, can beat Antonio Conte’s men at Fortress Anfield, it is difficult to imagine them dropping another point against Villa, Southampton or Wolves.
They must also face Chelsea in the FA Cup final a week tomorrow before they head to Paris in the springtime and the prospect of immortality. And a clean sweep is on now, for sure.
Real’s 13 European titles and their comebacks to defeat Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and City, will give them supreme self-confidence.
Yet those victories were all secured at the Bernabeu, where the home crowd possess a divine right to rule, which feels like an all-powerful mania.
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Paris will be rammed with Scousers, who, since Klopp took over, have extreme levels of belief too now.
And if they complete the Quad, Liverpool’s players may look back fondly on the night they watched from their sofas as City chucked it away in Spain.