NEWS
Tuesday December 11 2018
CL: Napoli exit at Anfield

Mohamed Salah pounced on a David Ospina error and Alisson performed a stunning last-gasp save, as Liverpool knock Napoli out of the Champions League.

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The Partenopei would be guaranteed a place in the Round of 16 if they avoided defeat here, but even a 2-1 or 3-2 loss could be enough. Simone Verdi was the only absentee for the visitors, while Dejan Lovren was only on the bench, Joe Gomez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rhian Brewster and Adam Lallana injured.

There were early chances for both sides, as Mohamed Salah’s first touch on a Robertson cross was awful, turning a tap-in into a pass back to David Ospina. At the other end, Marek Hamsik curled inches over the bar from the edge of the box.

Virgil van Dijk was fortunate to only get a yellow card after his studs-up tackle caught Mertens on the ankle, as with VAR in Italy that would’ve been a straight red.

Sadio Mane had the ball in the back of the net only after he had wandered into an offside position. Kalidou Koulibaly also made a decisive tackle on Salah to stop him going clear.

Liverpool did take the lead when Salah shrugged off Mario Rui and David Ospina moved too quickly, assuming it was a pull-back from the by-line, but instead he fired in at the near post and it squirmed past the goalkeeper’s legs.

Napoli created two good opportunities, but were too frenetic with Fabian Ruiz straight at Alisson Becker and a four-on-two counter wasted.

There was bad news from Belgrade too, as Paris Saint-Germain were leading 2-0 at the break.

Mario Rui gifted the ball with an ill-advised back-heel flick and Salah only drilled inches wide. Napoli were pouring forward and forced Van Dijk into a decisive block, but Ospina needed a double miracle to fingertip the ball off Salah’s foot, then get back on his feet to beat away the curler.

It was end to end stuff, as Napoli knew they needed a goal, and Ospina uses his legs to parry from Mane from point-blank range and van Dijk volleyed a corner over at the back stick.

Jose Callejon wasted a golden opportunity on 78 minutes, as Insigne rolled it past the defenders to find Callejon at the far post, but the Spaniard prodded it over the bar.

Mane managed to do even worse, ballooning over from close range on a Salah pull-back. Insigne should also have done better on a poor Trent Alexander-Arnold clearance, but fired over.

In stoppages, a cross was flicked on for Arkadiusz Milik, who controlled with one foot, shot with the other and Alisson Becker used himself as a human shield to charge down the finish from point-blank range.

Liverpool 1-0 Napoli

Salah 34 (L)

Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold (Lovren 89), Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Hendersen, Milner (Fabinho 85); Salah, Firmino (Keita 79), Mane

Napoli: Ospina; Maksimovic, Albiol, Koulibaly, Mario Rui; Callejon, Allan, Hamsik, Fabian (Zielinski 62); Mertens (Milik 67), Insigne

Ref: Skomina (SVK)