Napoli 2 Liverpool 0: Dries Mertens and Fernando Llorente see Klopp’s men lose for first time in FOUR months after Van Dijk howler


You can lose at Napoli and still win the Champions League.

In fact, as we saw last season, you can get turned over four times away from home and still win the thing.

 Napoli's Dries Mertens celebrates his late spot-kick breakthrough against Liverpool

9

Napoli’s Dries Mertens celebrates his late spot-kick breakthrough against LiverpoolCredit: Reuters
 Fernando Llorente bursts onto a mistake from Virgil van Dijk to complete the Napoli win

9

Fernando Llorente bursts onto a mistake from Virgil van Dijk to complete the Napoli winCredit: Reuters
 Adrian gets his hand to this firm penalty from Fernando Llorente but can't quite keep it out

9

Adrian gets his hand to this firm penalty from Fernando Llorente but can’t quite keep it outCredit: AFP

For the second year in succession, despite the extraordinary efforts of stand-in keeper Adrian, Napoli struck late to beat Jurgen Klopp’s team – this time twice, thanks to Dries Mertens’ penalty and a Virgil Van Dijk blunder handing ex-spurs striker Fernando Llorente his first goal for the Italians.

There were lots of things wrong with Liverpool here in southern Italy.

They were sloppy in possession, not as decisive up front and not always as concentrated at the back.

Ultimately, they could have few complaints when Dries Mertens smashed the penalty past Adrian after Andy Robertson stuck out a leg and fouled Jose Callejon.

It all came after Adrian threatened to hero with a stunning save at the start of the second half to deny Mertens.

And to think Adrian could still be warming the substitute’s bench at the London Stadium.

FANS SHOCKED

Turning down a new contact from Manuel Pellegrini was one of the best things he has ever done and at another venue with an athletics track, the Stadio San Paolo, Adrian went one better than the penalty save from Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham which captured the Uefa Super Cup in Istanbul.

READ  Man Utd problem picked out by Ince as board implored not to sack Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

And to be honest, some West Ham fans would have been just as shocked.

Yet for the time being at least, Adrian will be in goal and the rest of his team must be a lot more alert when they visit Chelsea this Sunday.

Liverpool’s Champions League campaign will not be won or lost here and – unlike last year – they are in a lot easier qualifying group.

But equally, there were one or two warnings last night they must take note of.

 Napoli's Dries Mertens celebrates his late spot-kick breakthrough against Liverpool

9

Napoli’s Dries Mertens celebrates his late spot-kick breakthrough against LiverpoolCredit: Reuters
 Liverpool striker Mo Salah fires in an effort despite the efforts of Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly

9

Liverpool striker Mo Salah fires in an effort despite the efforts of Napoli centre-back Kalidou KoulibalyCredit: AP:Associated Press

The last time Liverpool found themselves on a pitch in this competition, of course, was the moment Slovenian referee Damir Skomina blew his whistle for the end of a 2-0 win over Tottenham on June 1 in Madrid.

Actually, not much has changed since then as the team is pretty much the same – apart from Adrian’s enforced appearances in goal – and the side keeps on winning.

And as Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti was keen to point out 24 hours earlier, Liverpool are a far more solid defensive united than the one which suffered all sorts of second half problems here 11 months ago yet still only conceded in the 90th minute.

Napoli certainly started with more purpose and Adrian needed strong arms to bat away a couple of strong shots from Fabian Ruiz within seconds of each other.

READ  Man Utd squad vs Leicester revealed as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer faces injury crisis

TUESDAY’S CHAMPIONS LEAGUE RESULTS

Group E

Red Bull Salzburg 6 – 2 Genk

Napoli 2 – 0 Liverpool

Group F

Inter Milan 1 – 1 Slavia Prague

Borussia Dortmund 0 – 0 Barcelona

Group G

Lyon 1 -1 Zenit St Petersburg

Benfica 1 – 2 Red Bull Leipzig

Group H

Chelsea 0 – 1 Valencia

Ajax 3 – 0 Lille

[/boxout]

While the ball fell perfectly for Hirving Lozano to head into the net, he was comfortably offside.

Liverpool’s defence was being put under pressure and Trent Alexander-Arnold, who will feel he could have done better for Jetro Williams’ Newcastle goal at Anfield on Saturday, showed terrific speed and awareness on a couple of occasions to come to the aid of Joel Matip with Mertens looking lively.

Liverpool had to wait until midway through the first half to manage a shot, Sadio Mane firing from an angle but straight at Alex Meret, who has ensured that former Arsenal keeper David Ospina warms the Napoli bench.

But while they were guilty of some sloppy football, Liverpool did gradually create more.

James Milner was guilty of a wild finish after Mo Salah – despite looking to have his shirt pulled by Koulibaly – created the chance with some fine persistence.

 Liverpool frontman Sadio Mane tangles under the challenge of Napoli's Brazilian defender Allan

9

Liverpool frontman Sadio Mane tangles under the challenge of Napoli’s Brazilian defender AllanCredit: AFP
 Liverpool defenders Joel Matip and Trent Alexander-Arnold put the squeeze on Napoli's Hirving Lozano

9

Liverpool defenders Joel Matip and Trent Alexander-Arnold put the squeeze on Napoli’s Hirving LozanoCredit: PA:Empics Sport

But Liverpool were starting to find some holes in the home defence – with Salah also dragging an effort wide – and they would have led had they been a bit sharper.

READ  Premier League highlights: Watch Gonzalo Higuain’s stunner for Chelsea as they hammer Huddersfield and Spurs, Cardiff and Wolves all win

Milner attempted to square the ball to Salah in what wold have been a certain goal but the pass was cut out. Seconds later, Milner found his man with a decent cross for Firmino but he was rightly frustrated with himself for sending this header wide with Meret rooted to the spot.

The fact that the half-time stats were two shots on target each and 50 per cent possession each illustrates there was not much in it.

Yet Napoli came steaming out of the block and Adrian delivered that fine save.

For the first time, Van Dijk was caught out and he was unable to cit out Mario Rui’s cross but while Mertens’ volley was good enough, Adrian was even better as he somehow clawed the ball out.

Adrian showed incredible strength to make this save so little wonder it is an early candidate for save of the season.

Meret responded by getting down low to his left to push away a chance from Salah while Mane also forced a save.

Yet Napoli then got the goal they had threatened.

And after Mertens’ spot-kick came the rarest of errors from Van Dijk, letting in Llorente to drill home a small consolation for his final agony against Liverpool last season for Tottenham.

Next up in this competition are Salzburg who had Erling Braut Halland deliver a goal blitz against Genk last night.

But before then, there will be a few more tests for Adrian and his defence.

 Napoli and Senegal powerhouse Kalidou Koulibaly halts Liverpool frontman Roberto Firmino

9

Napoli and Senegal powerhouse Kalidou Koulibaly halts Liverpool frontman Roberto FirminoCredit: AFP
 James Milner whips in a cross in a tough group clash for Liverpool at Napoli

9

James Milner whips in a cross in a tough group clash for Liverpool at NapoliCredit: Reuters





READ SOURCE

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here