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Dublin: 5°C Wednesday 2 December 2020
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Liveblog

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Welcome along to tonight’s liveblog.

It’s fairly simple. The winner of this match will qualify for the last 16.

Liverpool have had a superb start to the Premier League season, winning 12 and drawing one of their 13 matches and sitting eight points clear at the top as a result.

In Europe though, it has been not been quite as successful. They loss the reverse fixture 2-0 to Napoli in Italy.

That said, they still sit top of Group E on nine points, a point above Napoli and five points ahead of RB Salzburg in third.

So even if they drop points this evening, they will still be in a pretty strong position to qualify.

In contrast with the Reds, Napoli have had a difficult time domestically. They are without a win in six games and currently sit seventh in Serie A, with manager Carlo Ancelotti under pressure as a result.

We’re under way…

Liverpool have unsurprisingly started this game on the front foot.

Their pressing has already caused problems, with Napoli conceding possession cheaply on more than one occasion.

Salah finds himself in a promising position after Koulibaly concedes possession, but the Egyptian’s cross is straight into the goalkeeper’s arms.

Napoli have started this game very cautiously, defending in numbers and attempting to hit their opponents on the counter-attack.

As I type, Ruiz, the Napoli left-back, tries to lob Alisson from the halfway line, but his effort goes well wide in the end.

liverpool-v-napoli-uefa-champions-league-group-e-anfield Liverpool's (back left to right) Alisson Becker, Dejan Lovren, Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, (fron left to right) Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Andrew Robertson, James Milner and Sadio Mane. Source: Nigel French

It’s a lovely flick by Firmino to set up Milner in the area, but Koulibaly does well to get a last-ditch block on the midfielder’s goalbound shot.

Meanwhile, there’s an early blow for Liverpool, as Fabinho picks up a knock and is replaced by Wijnaldum.

It looks precautionary more than anything, so the injury may not be too serious.

Mertens breaks the Liverpool offside trap after a well-executed lofted through pass by Giovanni di Lorenzo, with the attacker running through on goal and producing a fine finish from a tight angle.

That leaves the Belgian international just four behind Marek Hamšík in Napoli’s all-time top goalscorer list.

There’s further concern for Liverpool as Van Dijk appeared to land awkwardly as he went up for a header in the build up, though it looks like he’ll be okay to continue

The Liverpool crowd are growing audibly frustrated.

The hosts have struggled to find a way past Napoli’s stubborn backline so far.

Liverpool have been well below their best so far.

The Reds have been unusually sluggish in their build-up play, with signs the intensity of the last few games could be catching up with them.

Van Dijk gets on the end of Robertson’s free kick, but his header is straight at Meret.

That’s the first time tonight that Napoli’s goalkeeper has had to make a save, which emphasises how poor Liverpool have been compared with their usual high standards.

A rare Liverpool chance. Firmino produces a lovely flick to Mane to complete a one-two.

The Senegal international is in a very promising position, but his pull back across the box is cleared by Koulibaly.

Mane continues to cause problems down the left.

He wants a free kick after a strong tackle by Allan, but the referee only awards a corner.

Mane goes down under a challenge in the box by Di Lorenzo.

He wants a penalty, but the referee ignores all protests and waves play on.

There have been signs of Liverpool upping the intensity and looking more threatening in recent minutes.

Milner’s powerful shot is saved by Meret.

Liverpool have been much better in these last few minutes.

The second half has begun…

The second half has been similar to the first.

Liverpool have dominated possession and territory, with Napoli defending in numbers and occasionally looking menacing on the counter attack.

Joe Gomez gets in a decent position but his cross is badly overhit.

If he continues to play final balls like that, Alexander-Arnold will surely be on soon.

It’s Oxlade-Chamberlain, however, who is the main man warming up on the sideline.

Very nervy moment for Napoli and Meret in particular.

The goalkeeper drops Henderson’s cross, it falls to Firmino, but the Brazilian’s shot is cleared off the line by a well-positioned Koulibaly.

Liverpool make a change. Joe Gomez, who hasn’t had a particularly good game, comes off.

Oxlade-Chamberlain comes on, meaning Jordan Henderson will move to right-back to accommodate the former Arsenal player in midfield.

Robertson bursts forward and plays it to Salah inside the area, but the attacker’s shot is straight at the goalkeeper.

Like many Liverpool players, the Egyptian has produced a below-par display this evening.

Moments later, Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross picks out Firmino at the far post, but the header goes just wide.

Lovren gets to a Milner corner ahead of Mertens and heads an unstoppable effort past Meret.

That leaves Liverpool back top of the group, and it’s certainly been coming.

Napoli make a change.

Lozano is replaced by Llorente, who had such an impact for Tottenham in this competition last year.

Liverpool make another change.

Alexander-Arnold replaces the tiring Milner.

It’s pretty much attack v defence at the moment.

You get the sense Napoli would be very happy with a draw, given that they’d certainly fancy their chances in the final game against the weakest team in the group, Genk. 

Napoli make another change.

20-year-old Macedonian midfielder Elif Elmas is on in place of the goalscorer, Mertens.

Alexander-Arnold’s cross goes straight into the arms of Meret.

Napoli make a final switch, with Zielinski replaced by Younes.

The Italian side are doing their best to slow the game down, time-wasting at every available opportunity.

Some nervy moments in the Napoli box as they struggle to clear a corner.

Eventually, Koulibaly, who has been excellent tonight, heads it away.

There will be four minutes of stoppage time.

Looks like Liverpool will need to get at least a point in Austria.

liverpool-v-napoli-uefa-champions-league-group-e-anfield Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk (left) and Napoli's Hirving Lozano (right) battle for the ball. Source: Nigel French

Right, that’s all from me.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

You can read our match report here.

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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