Richard Hercock: Real and Ronaldo remind us of the step up in class required

This newspaper ran a midweek poll asking if any English team could win the Champions League this season?

OUTCLASSED: Liverpool's Steven Gerrard congratulates Real Madrid's Karim Benzema at the final whistle at Anfield.
OUTCLASSED: Liverpool's Steven Gerrard congratulates Real Madrid's Karim Benzema at the final whistle at Anfield.

You will have to forgive us, for the question was posed before the embarrassing scenes on Wednesday night at Anfield.

Liverpool – far removed from their glorious night in Istanbul – had no defence, quite literally, to the power and exquisite football of Real Madrid.

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I have seen reports linking Cristiano Ronaldo with a return to Manchester United. Well, on his display at Anfield, the Glazer family do not have enough money to buy him.

He was unplayable, and his goal – surprisingly given his scoring feats for the Red Devils – was his first at Liverpool.

In a week where the debate on Ched Evans returning to Sheffield United has shown an ugly side of football, Ronaldo’s goal reminded me why I would like my six-year-old son to be a football fan who actually goes to games.

It was breathtaking, stunning, and laced with an undeniable talent. Real romped into a 3-0 lead at half-time, and took their foot off the gas after the break. If they hadn’t, I fear what the final scoreline may have been.

It was a harsh reminder of the gap between English clubs and Real – who some argued were not even the best team in Madrid last season when Atletico took them all the way in the Champions League final and won the title – and the hard work ahead for the Premier League’s elite.

Of course, Liverpool only got in by default.

I am a great believer that only the national champions should enter the Champions League. Maybe Manchester City or current leaders Chelsea may have done better. Personally, I don’t think so.

It capped an extraordinary week for the Scousers, coming after that remarkable 3-2 win at QPR. Going into the 87th minute, it looked like Richard Dunne’s own goal would be enough to earn the Reds a 1-0 win.

But then four goals followed in a passage of play which more resembled a basketball match.

One side ventured forward and scored, and before the crowd’s cheers/groans had subsided, the opposition netted at the other end.

It was an incredible few minutes, and I am sure England manager Roy Hodgson was not the only one who missed the late goals avalanche as he nipped off early to catch a bus (or some other excuse).

The scenes at Loftus Road reminded me of the craziest finish to a game I have seen.

It came at the old Highbury ground on February 15, 1992 when Sheffield Wednesday were the visitors in the season before the Premier League was created.

The Owls were deservedly drawing 1-1 after 70 minutes but, suddenly, Arsenal stepped up a gear and blew away Wednesday with some breathtaking football to triumph 7-1.

The attacking threat from the likes of Anders Limpar, Paul Merson, Ian Wright, David Rocastle, Kevin Campbell and Alan Smith was quite awesome on that miserable day for the Owls in north London.

Ronaldo and company didn’t quite reach those heights on Wednesday evening, but you would hate to be the opposition if they did.