Napoli 2-0 Liverpool: Late goals stun Reds in Champions League openeradmin
Napoli vs Liverpool
Champions League Group E
8:00pm Tuesday 17th September
Goals in Fernando Llorente and Dries Mertens earned a 2-0 success to Napoli as Liverpool made a slow start to the Champions League defence.
For the next season in a row, the side of Jurgen Klopp were beaten at the group stage in Naples – last October they lost 1-0 – and it was sloppy defending which saw the Group E game slip away from them.
The Reds had defended stoutly against several sustained pressure from the side, but had been unfortunate to be punished after Jose Callejon jumped inside of Andy Robertson before making the most of touch with the Liverpool defender and, even when a VAR review failed to provide the visitors an reprieve, Dries Mertens took advantage to conquer Adrian from the spot.
As Liverpool pushed for a late equaliser, nicely into five minutes of added-on period Fernando Llorente doubled the lead from a rare Virgil van Dijk mistake, profiting as soon as the guardian’s mis-hit pass ran into his path and he slotted the ball home into spark wild celebrations in your home bench with victory sealed – along with the reigning champions beaten in their very first match for the first time since AC Milan in 1994.
Liverpool were expecting for better compared to their limp showing in the Stadio San Paolo previous season, but found themselves trapped on the break early on when, as they would have emphasized, Lorenzo Insigne found space in behind Trent Alexander-Arnold, however out of his pull-back Fabian double pulled easy stands from Adrian from a good place.
Liverpool responded when Jordan Henderson’s lob found Sadio Mane unmarked on the edge of the box, but his thick touch took him wide of Alex Meret’s place also, by a tight angle, so it was easy enough to the goalkeeper to flip his effort around the post along with his legs.
There was little more to shout about from both sides before the break although it took a struggle from Alexander-Arnold to select the ball as he prepared to shoot.
The second half did not take long to glow up. It was less than four minutes old when Liverpool were indebted to some save to stay flat, together with the goalkeeper somehow tipping over Mertens’ far-post suggestion when he seemed certain to score.
Their entrance three looked out of sorts, when the people did get opportunities to strike; prior to over-hitting across a pass to the unmarked Mo Salah as Liverpool broke when Mane hung onto the ball too 29, it was summed up.
Liverpool were made to regret those misfiring strikes when Callejon chose a late tumble under pressure out of Robertson, the Warriors pointed to the spot and Mertens found the corner, even though a commendable attempt.
It was looking like a case of deja vu for Liverpool now, but things got worse in additional time after Van Dijk’s uncharacteristic mistake setup Llorente, who had been on the conquered Spurs side in last season’s final, to slot under Adrian and seal three points to the hosts.
Former Liverpool defender Phil Babb told The Debate:”It was comfortable, they made opportunities, I think they had four target that was an improvement from last year when they had one, so I presume. However, it wasn’t a Liverpool performance that is normal; we did not see Andy Robertson or Trent bombing forward.
“Sadio Mane appeared sharp, Mo Salah looked sharp sometimes, they did create chances but it was a masterclass from Kalidou Koulibaly – that was similar to the Virgil van Dijk of last year, also Liverpool got no joy from him. It was a few sucker-punches.
“Then Adrian rescue, you thought yeah, coming out of this 0-0, it’s a good point, but they lost it”
Liverpool are live on Super Sunday if they visit Chelsea at the 4.30pm kick-off, on Sky Sports Premier League.