Liverpool came into this game knowing that they needed to dig deep in order to get the win over a Napoli side that, in many ways, have been floundering. Despite the odds suggesting that the Reds would be able to breeze towards a win and secure their place in the Round of 16, the Italians continued to prove that they seem to have their number as they edged out a 1-1 draw at Anfield.
Struggling over the finish line
The fact that Liverpool were beaten over in Italy wasn’t a big worry for fans before kick-off, but looking back, perhaps it should’ve been. In the first half it was pretty clear to see Liverpool were struggling to really find their rhythm, to the point where they rarely resembled the status of European champions that we know them for.
It only took 21 minutes for Napoli to take the lead with the one and only Dries Mertens beating the offside trap before putting away a really nice finish. Napoli proceeded to play the kind of football in the first half that we’ve come to know them for over the years, and the kind of football that leads many of their fans to believe they can be an even bigger influence in European football in the years to come.
Jurgen Klopp’s men were able to improve in a big way in the second half, with Kalidou Koulibaly clearing the ball off the line when Roberto Firmino came close to equalising. The warning signs were there for all to see, and then 20 minutes into the second half, Dejan Lovren of all people was able to pop up and nod in a goal that ensured Liverpool were still in pole position heading into the final group stage game.
All they’ll need is a draw against RB Salzburg, whereas Napoli will need to beat Genk to absolutely confirm their place in the knockout stage. Liverpool will re-focus their attention on back to back home games against Brighton & Hove Albion and Everton, whereas Napoli will attempt to get their league campaign back on track against Bologna at home and Udinese away.
Liverpool: Alisson (6), Robertson (6.5), van Dijk (7), Lovren (8), Gomez (6.5), Milner (7.5), Fabinho (6), Henderson (7), Mane (6.5), Firmino (6), Salah (6.5), Alexander-Arnold (6), Oxlade-Chamberlain (7), Wijnaldum (6.5)
Napoli: Meret (6.5), Maksimovic (7), Manolas (7.5), Koulibaly (7.5), Rui (6), Lorenzo (7), Allan (6.5), Ruiz (7.5), Zielinski (6), Mertens (7.5), Lozano (6.5), Llorente (6), Elmas (6), Younes (6)
Referee: Carlos del Cerro Grande
Goals: Lovren :: Mertens
Yellow Cards: Robertson, Koulibaly, Marques Loureiro
Red Cards: N/A
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