Wednesday November 27 2019
CL: Napoli hold Liverpool

Dries Mertens saw his opener cancelled out by a Dejan Lovren header, as Napoli picked up a precious 1-1 draw away to Liverpool.

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The Reds now have 10 points, Napoli nine (and they host bottom club Genk last), with RB Salzburg on seven.

It means Napoli only need a point against Genk to be sure of qualification and can still hope for the top spot, because if they all finish on 10 points, Carlo Ancelotti’s side have the upper hand in the head-to-head records.

These sides are the top two of their Champions League group, separated by just one point, and a win for either would mathematically seal qualification to the Round of 16. Mohamed Salah shook off an ankle problem to start, with Joel Matip and Nathaniel Clyde injured. The Partenopei were in crisis mode, winless in six competitive games, missing Lorenzo Insigne, Arkadiusz Milik, Faouzi Ghoulam and Kevin Malcuit, with Fabian Ruiz and Mario Rui passing late fitness tests. Jose Callejon was surprisingly dropped for a more advanced Giovanni Di Lorenzo.

Liverpool lost Fabinho early on, as he seemed to accidentally sprain his knee when Dejan Lovren pushed Chucky Lozano into his teammate, making way for Georgino Wijnaldum.

Napoli took the lead after 21 minutes when Dries Mertens challenged Virgil van Dijk in midfield, then sprung the offside trap on Di Lorenzo’s ball over the top, letting it bounce to smash across Alisson Becker into the far bottom corner from a tight angle. There was confusion, as Van Dijk stayed down for some time and there was a VAR check, but Mertens only nudged the defender during the jump, so it was not a foul.

Roberto Firmino sent teammates through with a couple of cheeky back-heel flicks, but Kalidou Koulibaly was always there to clean up.

Sadio Mane went down far too easily under pressure from Di Lorenzo, but Alex Meret did need to make a save at the near post on Milner.

Jurgen Klopp was increasingly agitated on the touchline and booked for dissent.

There was a huge scare on 55 minutes, as Alex Meret fumbled a cross and Firmino thought he’d scored, but Koulibaly was ready for a decisive goal-line clearance.

With one of his few chances, Salah fired straight at Meret after a well-worked team move, but Liverpool’s endless pressure finally paid off with a corner.

It was whipped in by Milner for Dejan Lovren, who towered above Mertens to nod in the equaliser on 65 minutes at Anfield.

The goal had been coming and Napoli were struggling to get out of their half, but Meret didn’t really have many saves to make.

Liverpool 1-1 Napoli

Mertens 21 (N), Lovren 65 (L)

Liverpool: Alisson; Gomez (Oxlade-Chamberlain 57), Van Dijk, Lovren, Robertson; Fabinho (Wijnaldum 19), Milner (Alexander-Arnold 78), Henderson; Salah, Firmino, Mane

Napoli: Meret; Maksimovic, Manolas, Koulibaly, Mario Rui; Di Lorenzo, Allan, Zielinski, Fabian Ruiz; Mertens (Elmas 82), Lozano (Llorente 72)

Ref: Del Cerro Grande (ESP)

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