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Liverpool 1, Napoli 0: First Thoughts

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A professional performance from Liverpool sees them through to the knockout rounds of the Champions League.

Liverpool v SSC Napoli - UEFA Champions League Group C
...runnin’ down the wing...
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Liverpool 1 - 0 Napoli

Liverpool: Salah 34’
Napoli: N/A

  • Pre-match Thought: Some pre-match grumbling (from our fan base? why, I never...) about our 4-3-3 lineup with a midfield trio of Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum, and James Milner. AKA the same three that led us the Champions League final. Anyway, If we’re chasing a late goal (please Fowler no), we have the services of Xherdan Shaqiri, Daniel Sturridge, and Divock Origi to call upon. Fingers crossed for an early goal for, not against, us. Come on Anfield, time for more of your magic. Up the Reds.
  • Liverpool already looking better in the first two minutes of the match than they did at any point in the reverse fixture. The Reds are moving it quickly through the middle of the park in possession, and really suffocating Napoli out of possession.
  • BIG CHANCE! Gini brilliantly switches play to pick out a streaking Andy Robertson. Robbo picks out a criminally wide open Mo Salah, but the Egyptian’s heavy first touch makes it easy for the keeper to come and collect.
  • Virgil van Dijk picks up an early yellow, despite clearly winning the ball. However, his follow through catches Mertens studs-up on the ankle, and it appears to be a good call on review. Or, as a stoneaged English pundit and/or manager might put it, it was “A fantastic tackle.”
  • Mane puts the ball in the back of the net after a fantastic opening 20 minutes from the home side, but it is rightly chalked off for offsides.
  • Koulibaly having another worldie against Mo. So glad he doesn’t play for one of our domestic rivals.
  • GOAL! After being hacked to death for the opening half an hour, and then being hacked some more, Salah just decided to embarrass an entire defense for the second time in as many games. The nutmeg finish was especially humiliating and cruel, Mo.
  • Jesus fucking Christ this ref. Every 50/50 challenge (and a fair few 60/40, and 70/30 ones) are going against us. Koulibaly just did Mo, and you could almost see pain on the refs face that he had to give a yellow to Napoli. Whoever paid for this ref is getting their money’s worth.
  • Halftime Thought: About as good of an opening do-or-die half as you could hope for from Liverpool. Napoli have been held to one shot from inside the box, and haven’t really threatened so far. On the other side of the ball, Mo once again looks like a man possessed, and Liverpool look very dangerous, especially on the counter. Of course, because of the killer nature of European away goals, we’ll probably be on a knife’s edge the rest of the night. Still, good start, and if we can hold on for 45 minutes (or better yet, nab a couple more goals), we’re through.
  • This fucking ref. Again. Still. Mo is getting hacked and held every single time he touches the ball, but Mo and Sadio have been called for fouls for, as best as I can tell, standing in the general vicinity of Napoli players.
  • Napoli are remaining patient through the first 15 minutes of the second half. Liverpool also seem to have throttled back, not wanting to be exposed at the back. It’s going to be a long final 30 minutes, from the looks of things.
  • MASSIVE CHANCE for Mo, he’s played through on goal, rounds the keeper and appears to be fouled. He stays on his feet, but puts him off enough to give the keeper a chance to recover. The ref is not interested in pulling it back for a pen in the slightest. Shocker.
  • 75 minutes on, and this game has really opened up in the last 10 minutes or so. Liverpool have had several chances on the counter as Napoli press for a goal.
  • Klopp makes his first sub on 79 minutes, Naby Keita coming on for Roberto Firmino. Give ‘em hell, Naby.
  • Mo goes into the book after holding up the Napoli keeper, preventing a quick counter. Way to take one for the team, Mo.
  • Gini appears to be the one about to make way, but Milner pulls up with what appears to be cramps, and he’s the one to get the hook. Fabinho comes on instead.
  • Speaking of Gini, he’s been fantastic at joining the attack today, even getting a few shots off in promising positions. Unfortunately those shots have been wildly off target, but still, good that he’s trying.
  • GHAA! Mane misses a HUGE chance right in front of goal after Salah skins his man and squares it perfectly for him. The Reds could be out of sight by now if they had taken a couple of their chances tonight.
  • Trent appeared to pull up with a knock (please be minor!), and makes way for Dejan Lovren in the final minute of regular time.
  • Robbo goes into the books for time wasting on a throw. What a lad.
  • HUGE SAVE! Alisson hasn’t had much to do tonight, but he very well might have saved our Champions League campaign with a point-blank save from Milik!
  • Final Whistle Thought: That wasn’t a vintage European Night at Anfield, but it was a very good one. It was a energetic and professional showing from the Reds, and honestly 1-0 flatters the visitors.

We’ll be back shortly to take an in-depth look at everything that happened in today’s game with the full recap. Until then, let us know your take on the ups and downs of the match in the comments, and if you haven’t already, join the community on the Liverpool Offside, where we’ll have full coverage and lively in-game discussion for every match this season.