Napoli vs Liverpool
Champions League Group E
8:00pm Tuesday 17th September
As Liverpool produced a slow start to the Champions League 24, goals from Fernando Llorente and Dries Mertens got a victory to Napoli.
For the second season in a row, Jurgen Klopp’s side had been beaten at the group stage in Naples – last October they lost 1-0 – and it had been sloppy defending which saw that the Group E game slip away from them at the final moments.
The Reds had defended stoutly against several sustained pressure from the home side, but were unfortunate to be punished after Jose Callejon skipped inside of Andy Robertson prior to making the most of touch with the Liverpool guardian and, even as soon as a VAR inspection failed to provide the visitors a reprieve, Dries Mertens took full advantage to beat Adrian in the place.
Since Liverpool pushed to get a late equaliser, well into five moments of added-on time Fernando Llorente doubled the lead out of an uncommon Virgil van Dijk error, profiting as soon as the guardian’s mis-hit pass hurried into his path and he slotted the ball home into spark wild celebrations in your house bench with success closed – along with the reigning champions defeated their first game for the first time since AC Milan in 1994.
Liverpool were hoping for better than their limp showing at the Stadio San Paolo last year, but found themselves caught on the break early on when, since they’d have feared, Lorenzo Insigne found space in supporting Trent Alexander-Arnold, however out of his pull-back Fabian twice pulled simple saves from Adrian from a good place.
Liverpool reacted when Jordan Henderson’s lob discovered Sadio Mane unmarked on the edge of the box, however, his thick touch took him wide of Alex Meret’s place and, out of a tight angle, so it was simple enough to the goalkeeper to flip his effort around the post with his thighs.
There was more to shout about from both sides before the rest although it required a struggle to select the ball off the foot of Insigne as he prepared to take.
The second half didn’t take to liven up. It was less than four minutes when Liverpool were indebted to some rescue from Adrian to stay level, with the goalkeeper tipping over Mertens’ far-post header after he seemed sure to score.
Their front three seemed out of sorts when the visitors did get opportunities to attack; it was summed up when Mane hung onto the ball before over-hitting across a pass to the unmarked Mo Salah, as Liverpool broke.
Liverpool were left to regret those strikes that were misfiring when Callejon chose a tumble from Robertson under pressure, the Warriors pointed straight to the place and Mertens found the corner, despite a respectable attempt from Adrian.
It was looking like a case of deja vu for Liverpool at this point, but things got worse in added time after Van Dijk’s uncharacteristic error setup Llorente, who had been on the defeated Spurs aspect in last year’s closing, to slot beneath Adrian and seal three points to the hosts.
Former Liverpool defender Phil Babb told The Debate:”It had been comfortable, they made opportunities, I think they had four on target which was an improvement from last year when they had one, so I presume. But it was not a Liverpool functionality that is typical; we didn’t see Andy Robertson or even Trent bombing .
“Sadio Mane looked sharp, Mo Salah looked sharp sometimes, they did create chances but it was a masterclass from Kalidou Koulibaly – that was just similar to the Virgil van Dijk of past season, and also Liverpool got no pleasure from him. It was a few sucker-punches.
“Then Adrian rescue, you believed , coming out of the 0-0, it is a fantastic point, but they lost it.”
Liverpool are live on Super Sunday when they visit Chelsea in the 4.30pm kick-off, on Sky Sports Premier League.