Group A in this season's Champions League came to a conclusion last night with Liverpool taking on unbeaten Napoli at Anfield. The visitors were unbeaten in all competitions before coming to Anfield & had emerged as dark horses to go deep in the competition. Liverpool, struggling now more than ever in the season to go on a good run of form, had already secured 2nd place unless they beat the visitors by four goals.
The first half was pretty even between the two sides. It was a pretty scrappy opening 45 minutes, with Liverpool having the best chances of the game. Curtis Jones’s strike from an acute angle goes over the bar by about an inch & Thiago Alcantara’s first time strike from a yard outside of the box was palmed out by Alex Meret for a throw-in. Alisson Becker only faced one shot on target & it was comfortably saved by the Brazilian.
The game continued to play out in a similar fashion in the 2nd half with some decent chances falling for both sides. Liverpool looked far more comfortable at the back however due to Ibrahima Konate’s return to the starting 11.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 85th minute. Kostas Tsimikas whips in a corner which is met by a Darwin Nunez header which Alex Meret stops from going in by a couple of millimeters. However, despite the keeper's best efforts, it wasn’t enough to stop Mohammed Salah from scoring his 5th goal in 5 consecutive Champions League games.
Liverpool started to finally get into their groove with a long ball from Alisson Becker to meet Darwin Nunez.
The Uruguayan rolled the ball past Kim Min-Jae, and played the ball across the box. Mohammed Salah almost had a tap-in at the far post, but Leo Skiri Ostigard was there at the last second to put the ball out for a corner.
Kostas Tsimikas whipped in another brilliant corner which was met by the head of Virgil Van Dijk. Alex Meret keeps it out yet again as the ball trickled across the goal line...Darwin Nunez was at the right place at the right time to tap the ball into the back of the net, but the linesman’s flag went up for offside. However, despite a VAR check, the goal stood & Liverpool won the game 2-0.
The result didn’t mean anything in terms of how the group ended, but hopefully it will instill some confidence into Liverpool ahead of their trip to Tottenham on Sunday. To beat this Napoli side with a starting 11 which was nowhere near their best is not an easy task. Liverpool concluded the group on 15 points which was described as ‘insane’ by manager Jurgen Klopp.
The round of 16 draw will be on Monday 7th November at 11am UK time.