Napoli 1-0 Liverpool
Liverpool had their worst performance of the season against Napoli, and in Jurgen Klopp’s words, that’s why the Partenopei “deserved the three points.”
The Reds came into this Champions League match with high hopes of stopping their winless skid, but Carlo Ancelotti and his charges had other plans as they spoiled what was supposed to be a Reds comeback party at Stadio San Paolo.
Klopp’s men look nowhere near the team that won six straight Premier League matches though, and Napoli willingly took advantage to go top of Group C.
Highlights of the game
The match looked headed to finish in a goalless stalemate but, after a spirited display and plenty of wasted opportunities, Napoli were able to break the deadlock at the death of time to bring the Naples crowd on their feet.
Local hero Lorenzo Insigne, who failed to find the back of the net in their defeat to Juventus, stepped up for the home team and struck the winner on 90 minutes to send the visitors back to Anfield without a point.
Liverpool were never really in the game, no thanks to a horrendous performance that saw their deadly front three of Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane flop big time. And sure enough, the team was lucky to lose by just one goal.
Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne celebrates after scoring a 90th-minute goal against Liverpool in their Champions League match at Stadio San Paolo
Napoli started in the front foot, putting pressure on the visitors in the opening 15 minutes. Insigne, in fact, had a golden opportunity when he found space inside the Liverpool box. Unfortunately, his left-footed shot went wide of the target.
Ancelotti’s charges continued to dominate proceedings, and it didn’t last long until they found another glorious chance to go up. Arkadiusz Milik exposed the Reds’ defence midway through the first half when he received a left-wing cross in the penalty area, but his effort from 15 yards was denied by Alisson.
The Partenopei came out with more hunger in the second, and that was clear when Milik unleashed a long-range rocket which Alisson parried once again. Joe Gomez cleared the ball then, but Napoli knew they had the game under their control.
Fabian Ruiz, Mario Rui and Insigne came close to putting Napoli ahead before the hour, but a combination of solid defending from Virgil van Dijk and Gomez helped Liverpool slow down their opponents.
In the end, however, Insigne and Napoli wouldn’t be denied of the win they deserved. Jose Callejon, after good work from the right flank, whipped the ball to Insigne who beat Gomez for it and made no mistake from close range.
Liverpool failed to threaten offensively, and the best chance they had was a 67th-minute Salah strike from the top of the box that sailed wide.
It didn’t help them that they lacked muscle in the midfield, with Naby Keita subbed out in the 20th minute—and taken to the hospital after—with what appeared to be a lower back injury.
The pre-match Champions League 2018 odds at us favoured Liverpool despite their slump, but Napoli made no sense of that as they dictated the pace of the game.
They had 57 percent possession and were more efficient on passing the ball. Moreover, they had a total of 14 shots, five of which were on target.
The most eye-popping stat of the day, however, is Liverpool’s failure to register a single shot on target. The last time the Reds finished with zero on-target effort in a UCL game was in 2006.
Klopp’s side had a total of four shot attempts, but none came close as Salah, Firmino and Mane all struggled to break through the tight Napoli defence.
“No attempts on target, I don’t remember when that happened last time,” Klopp said in his post-game news conference. “I think we had a big part of that because we can play much better.”
“We don’t have a lot of set-pieces. No shot on target is not enough. They had a good game, we didn’t—that’s what they deserved the three points.”
Furthermore, for Salah, the defeat extends his scoring drought to three games now. And it sure won’t help in his confidence that he has scored only once in their last eight games in all competitions.
Liverpool players look dejected after suffering a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Napoli in their Champions League group stage match
With the latest Champions League 2018 results, Napoli now lead Group C with four points. Liverpool and PSG, who hit six goals to beat Red Star Belgrade in the other group game, are tied for second with three points each.
It’s back to the drawing board for Klopp and Liverpool though, and the club must quickly find a way to patch things up as they face Manchester City next in a top-of-the-table battle in the Premier League.
Meanwhile, Napoli host overachieving Sassuolo next as they aim to cut Juventus’ lead at the top of Serie A.
CHECK OUT OUR BLOG FOR MORE FOOTBALL STORIES & ODDS
Stay updated with everything sports and betting.
Follow us on social Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.