The Brazil international’s goals in the 27th and 65th minute sandwiched strikes from Marco Asensio and Mohamed Salah to hand Zinedine Zidane’s men a sizable advantage heading into the return leg next week.
Madrid went in front just before the half-hour mark when a sprinting Vinicius chested and fired home from a sublime Toni Kroos long ball behind the Liverpool defence.
The goal marked the former Flamengo man’s first in the Champions League knockouts. He also became the second-youngest player to score a UCL knockout goal for Real Madrid at 20 years and 268 days, and youngest since Raul in 1996.
Madrid dominated the next exchanges and doubled the lead with help of a ghastly error by Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold who, when racing Vinicius to a lobbed through ball down the left, inexplicably played a ball into the path of Asensio with only the keeper to beat.
Asensio’s strike — a chip over Alisson before smashing home into an empty net — marked the fourth straight match in which the winger has scored in all competitions.
Salah pulled a goal back early in the second half when he slotted home from the middle of the box after a blocked Diogo Jota shot fell to him behind the Madrid defence.
Vinicius restored Real’s two-goal cushion in the 65th minute with a guided finish of a Luka Modric rolled cross that went through a defender’s legs and off Alisson’s hands before squirting in.
While Liverpool pushed, they couldn’t find another goal and will now have a steep hill to climb in the April 14 return match at Anfield.