A much-changed Liverpool fought hard but came up short against Real Madrid as Karim Benzema scored the only goal in their Champions League match.
The Frenchman turned in Marcelo’s low cross after Simon Mignolet had done well to keep out efforts from Cristiano Ronaldo and James Rodriguez.
Liverpool threatened briefly after the break as Adam Lallana fired just wide.
But Real remained in control and Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling’s arrival off the bench could not turn the tide.
Despite the slimmer margin of victory, the game petered out in a similarly low-key style to when Real enjoyed a 3-0 win in the reverse fixture at Anfield a fortnight ago.
In possibly the biggest gamble of his managerial career, Brendan Rodgers made seven changes to the starting XI that lost to Newcastle at the weekend, with Mario Balotelli and Jordan Henderson joining Gerrard and Sterling on the bench.
Instead, Kolo Toure, who has seen less than a minute of Premier League action this season, started in defence, behind a midfield trio of Emre Can, Lucas and Joe Allen, with the willing Fabio Borini in attack.
Liverpool’s line-up seemed to suggest damage limitation, rather than a revenge mission, at the Bernabeu.
If minimising their losses was Rodgers’s aim, he succeeded, but some will struggle to understand his approach to such a big game.
The result, and team selection, will be thrown into even starker light should Liverpool fail to get a result at home to Chelsea on Saturday, when some of their rested first-choice players are likely to return.
And promising performances from several of Rodgers’s second string will not alter the maths of Group B, in which Liverpool find themselves three points behind second-placed Basel with two games to play.
Their line-up may have seemed more in keeping with the Capital One Cup than the Champions League, but the changes initially appeared to unsettle in-form Real.
Liverpool made a similarly promising start at Anfield, though, and Mignolet was still required to make sharp stops from Rodriguez and Ronaldo.