Napoli 2-0 Liverpool: Reds suffer late away defeat in Naples, again

Champions League Group Stage Game 1
Tuesday 17 September 2019 - 8:00 pm
San Paolo Stadium
Napoli2
0Liverpool
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57' Robertson
61' Milner
66'↔️ Milner off, Wijnaldum on
Insigne off, Zielinski on ↔️67'
Lozano off, Llorente on ↔️69'
Allan off, Elmas on ↔️76'
⚽️ Mertens82'
87'↔️ Henderson off, Shaqiri on
⚽️ Llorente90'
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Liverpool's consistently poor results in away group stage games continued with two late conceded goals in Naples this evening.

The reds most difficult group game according to team ranking was this first Champions League matchday and Carlo Ancelotti's men were clearly out for revenge.

Despite a deserved 1-0 win for the Italians in last years corresponding game, the reds eventually dumped the club out of the competition on the way to winning a sixth European Cup.

And tonight Liverpool put in a far superior performance to 12 months ago, but a very peculiar penalty decision and a further defensive lapse allowed Napoli to claim a two goal victory.

'Three changes'

Klopp made three changes from the weekend's win over Newcastle, Firmino replaced the injured Origi and Henderson and Milner came into midfield at Oxlade-Chamberlain and Wijnaldum's expense.

The first half was a bold and exciting affair.  Napoli enjoying some good chances in the first 20 or so minutes, before Liverpool ended the half the much stronger side.

Adrian was required to perform a double save in one of the half's highlights.

Koulibaly, the rock at the centre of Napoli's defence and Virgil van Dijk for Liverpool both had important defensive duties to perform.  Koulibaly dealing with the threat of Salah, although he was beaten a couple of times, and van Dijk repelling the attacks from Dries Mertens.

As it happened: Napoli 2-0 LFC

van Dijk had to deal with an opportunity presented to Fabian at the back post midway through the half.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, who has had a somewhat questionable defensive start to the season, was much improved in this game.  Two important and pacy interceptions in the opening half quelled chances for Napoli to take the lead.

When Salah beat Koulibaly the ball fell to James Milner at the edge of the box but he smashed his shot over the bar.

'Adrian impresses again'

After his earlier heroics, Adrian had plans for an even better save.

Mario Rui floated a ball to the back post, Mertens rose and banged in the header and free signing Adrian palmed the ball brilliantly away.

A two on one developed with Mane and Salah, but Mane was in too many minds and when he released the ball to Salah he overhit it.  A wasted opportunity.

In the final ten minutes, with Napoli seemingly fading, there came the penalty.

Andy Robertson who had earlier been yellow carded did appear to lunge at Callejon and the striker tumbled to the ground.  VAR replays didn't confirm any contact with the player, but because it wasn't a 'clear and obvious' error it wasn't overturned.  Bizarre stuff and the penalty stood.

Adrian got his hand to the ball but Dries Mertens had put too much power on it and Liverpool were stunned somewhat by going 1-0 down.

In stoppage time a backpass from Virgil van Dijk wasn't pinpoint.  Robertson, already on a yellow was reluctant to challenge for the ball and substitute Fernando Llorente got the tap in that may be small consolation for his Champions League Madrid runners up medal from his time at Spurs for the past two years.

Watch the highlights from this game

Liverpool lost here last year and won the competition and it remains early days in the competition.  But Liverpool will be hoping their forwards get back to their ruthless best when they travel to Chelsea at the weekend in the Premier League.

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