Van Dijk concedes 'the damage was done in Liverpool'
Virgil van Dijk conceded the "damage was done in Liverpool" as the Reds' exit from the Champions League was confirmed in a 1-0 defeat at Real Madrid on Wednesday.
Despite racing into a two-goal lead in the first leg at Anfield last month, Jurgen Klopp's men succumbed to a 5-2 reverse in a tie that represented a repeat of last season's final, which Madrid won 1-0 in Paris.
Liverpool had their moments at the Santiago Bernabeu but were unable to find a breakthrough and also had goalkeeper Alisson to thank for giving them a fighting chance.
But ultimately, Madrid star Karim Benzema's 78th-minute goal earned Carlo Ancelotti's side a 1-0 win on the night and a 6-2 aggregate success.
Speaking to BT Sport after the game, Liverpool centre-back Van Dijk said: "I think if I'm honest the first half was quite even.
"It's always going to be a very difficult task to come here and turn it all around. But you try not to look ahead, you try to win obviously.
"In my time at Liverpool with the games we've played against Real Madrid, I've never won against them, so it's always something that we wanted to do, we wanted to win.
"I think we created some dangerous moments in the first half. They had a couple of shots from distance as well and obviously with the quality they have on the break, especially Benzema dropping in, Vinicius with the speed and obviously his quality. It could always be dangerous on the break.
"It was tough but I think the damage was done in Liverpool and that's the most disappointing thing."
Van Dijk acknowledged Madrid's coolness in the big moments was a decisive factor.
"I think you play against a team who never get fazed a little bit," he added. "Even when you put them under pressure, even if [they] have difficult moments, they try to stay calm and obviously they have the players, if you look at [Luka] Modric, Benzema they're difference-makers and especially when they're under pressure.
"But still, I think in the first half we could have scored and it could be a totally different game. But today was definitely all about the small margins, and [in the] second half you try your absolute best and you just come too short."