Liverpool ended Napoli’s unblemished record in the Champions League with victory at Anfield but had to settle for second place in Group A.
Jurgen Klopp’s side were looking to bounce back from Saturday’s home defeat to Leeds United and their spirits will have been boosted by goals from Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez that ended the Serie A leaders’ impressive 21-game unbeaten run.
Liverpool never looked remotely like securing the four-goal margin of victory they would need against Napoli – who completely dominated the group – to finish top, but these three points will act as a real morale booster.
Thiago Alcantara had a save from Napoli goalkeeper Alex Merrett in the first half as Napoli thought they had broken the deadlock after the break only for defender Leo Ostigard’s free-kick header to be ruled out for offside after a lengthy video assistant referee ( VAR) examination.
A game of few chances looked headed for a draw but Liverpool grabbed victory when Mohamed Salah forced his home side to finish from close range five minutes from time, with Nunez sealing the deal in added time.
Konate shows his class
Liverpool’s defensive vulnerability, not helped by a struggling midfield, was one of the hallmarks of their disappointing start to the season, but Ibrahima Konate showed what they were missing as he confirmed a place in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Konate suffered a pre-season knee injury which forced him to miss the start of the campaign and was then ruled out again with a further muscle problem which saw Liverpool’s rearguard struggle badly without him.
The 23-year-old French defender returned against Napoli’s fearsome attack and put in an excellent display as Liverpool looked a much safer proposition than they have in recent times.
Konate’s defensive quality alongside Virgil van Dijk kept out the dangerous Victor Osimhen, showing composure, pace and physical presence as Napoli suffered a rare taste of defeat.
It’s true that Napoli weren’t at their most destructive and knew it would take something truly special from Liverpool to topple this team, but the class shown by Konate proved exactly why manager Jurgen Klopp will be hoping that this talented young defender can now get injured. -free run for the rest of the season.
Liverpool are coming back
Liverpool’s form and approach have been questioned after defeats to Nottingham Forest and Leeds United – criticism justified given how poor they have been, looking like a shadow of the side that spent almost all of last season chasing a historic quadruple.
Klopp’s side will take great heart from the Napoli win, although context must be given in that the Italians knew only a four-goal margin of defeat would make a difference in the group standings.
It removed a large element of danger from the group, Liverpool’s goals coming so late that there was never any chance for Anfield to be swept into any kind of frenzy of expectation.
This, however, was an example of what Liverpool can do and also showed the two faces of their season so far. They beat Manchester City and Napoli at Anfield without conceding a goal, but also suffered devastating defeats to teams who struggled early this term, as well as Manchester United and Arsenal, two sides who have been heavily punished. recent seasons.
Liverpool looked more secure at the back, survived a VAR scare when Odigard thought he had scored and then ended the match on a high with those two late scrum-half goals that will act as a real mood-changer for manager Klopp, his players and the fans of the club. who are so disappointed with their form so far this season.
The key now is consistency and Liverpool face a serious test of their credentials when they travel to Tottenham, who tasted victory in Marseille which saw them win their group, for a Premier League tie on Sunday.
- 66Alexander-ArnoldReservation at 73 minutesSubstituted forRamsayin the 87′minutes
- 5ConatéReservation at 36 minutes
- 4van Dyck
- 7MilnerSubstituted forEliotin the 48′minutes
- 6Thiago AlcantaraSubstituted forBayceticin the 87′minutes
- 9FirminoSubstituted forCarvalhoin the 87′minutes
- 17JonesSubstituted forNúñezin the 73′minutesReservation at 90 minutes
- 22Di Lorenzo
- 99Zambo Anguissa
- 68LobotkaSubstituted forZielinskiin the 83′minutes
- 91NdombéléSubstituted forRaspadoriin the 87′minutes
- 21PolitanoSubstituted forLausannein the 70′minutes
- 9OsimhenSubstituted forSimeonein the 87′minutes
- 77KvaratskheliaSubstituted forElmasin the 83′minutes
- 5Nunes Jesus
- 6Mario Rui
- Tobias Stieler
End of match, Liverpool 2, Napoli 0.
End of second half, Liverpool 2, Napoli 0.
VAR decision: Goal Liverpool 2-0 Napoli (Darwin Núñez).
Target! Liverpool 2, Napoli 0. Darwin Núñez (Liverpool) left footed shot from very close range to the top left corner following a corner.
Attempt saved. Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool) header from the center of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Konstantinos Tsimikas with a cross.
Corner, Liverpool. Contributed by Mathías Olivera.
Corner, Napoli. Granted by Konstantinos Tsimikas.
Offside, Napoli. Alex Merrett tries a through ball but Giacomo Raspadori is ruled offside.
Darwin Nunez (Liverpool) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Darwin Núñez (Liverpool).
Elzif Elmas (Napoli) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Liverpool. Courtesy of Leo Östigard.
Corner, Napoli. Conceded by Calvin Ramsey.
Attempt failure. Giacomo Raspadori (Napoli) right footed shot from the left side of the box is high and wide to the right. Assist by Elzif Elmas after a corner.
Corner, Napoli. Contributed by Ibrahima Konaté.
Calvin Ramsey (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Elzif Elmas (Napoli).
Attempt failure. Fábio Carvalho (Liverpool) right footed shot from the center of the box is too high. With the help of Mohamed Salah.
Change, Liverpool. Calvin Ramsey replaces Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Change, Liverpool. Stefan Bicets replaces Thiago.