Jurgen Klopp’s side paid the price for a disastrous 45 minutes in the Spanish capital last week as that 3-1 quarter-final first-leg defeat essentially put them out.
They created enough chances to have clawed back the two-goal deficit but goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was hardly extended as yet another wasteful performance from their forwards proved costly with 15 attempts producing just four on target.
Liverpool’s shape changed to 4-2-3-1 with Salah promoted to central striker to allow the three other forwards to slot in behind him, with centre-back Ozan Kabak sacrificed as Fabinho dropped in from midfield.
Real were barely committing anyone even to counter-attacks but when Vinicius Junior broke down the left it required goalkeeper Alisson to block his run and smother Benzema’s follow-up.
Thiago’s crossfield ball was brilliantly kept alive by Alexander-Arnold only for Firmino’s shot on the turn to rebound off Eder Militao when that vital breakthrough seemed likely.
Benzema should have put the hosts out of their misery but his downward header bounced over but it mattered little as Liverpool’s hopes of Champions League football now rest on overhauling Chelsea and West Ham to get into the top four.
That will prove difficult, however, if they continue to squander chances like this when it comes to the crunch.