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Liverpool through to Champions League knockout stages as Salah strike sinks Napoli

Mohamed Salah’s cool finish in the first half saw the Reds secure the 1-0 win they needed on Tuesday night.

Salah celebrates giving his side the lead at Anfield.
Salah celebrates giving his side the lead at Anfield.
Image: Peter Byrne

MOHAMED SALAH’S 35TH goal in 38 Anfield appearances was enough for Liverpool to seal a Uefa Champions League knockout spot after defeating Napoli 1-0 at Anfield on Tuesday evening.

The Egypt international returned to his default right-wing role as Jurgen Klopp switched to a 4-3-3 formation against the Italian visitors – who came into the tie atop Group C standings, needing only a point to progress as opposed to the Reds’ who require at least a 1-0 victory to make it.

On Saturday at Dean Court, the 26-year-old flourished while leading the line with Roberto Firmino, scoring a treble that matched and shattered some record – even moving him closer to Lionel Messi in the top European leagues scoring charts.

However, against Carlo Ancelotti’s side, he had several tussles with Kalidou Koulibaly. While the highly rated Senegal international tried to contain the sixth best player in the world, it was one of their meetings on the left side of Napoli’s defence that birthed the decisive goal.

gettyimages-1071841804-594x594 Kalidou Koulibaly and Salah in action on Tuesday night. Source: Getty Images

Four minutes after the half-hour mark, a James Milner ball fell graciously for Salah who jinked past Fabian Ruiz and a recovering Koulibaly before the Egypt striker squeezed a low effort past goalkeeper David Ospina from an acute angle.

The former Roma star had a chance to double the hosts’ lead few minutes after the restart but failed to hit the target, with his shot whiskers away from an impact. Mane also fluffed his lines, missing with a goal gaping at his front, after being set up by the forward.

For his troubles on the Reds talisman, Koulibaly was shown a caution in the 40th minute.

Joel Matip and Sadio Mane played for the entire duration while Naby Keita, one of the changes from Bournemouth win, took Firmino’s place in the 79th minute and Liverpool held firm to relegate Napoli to the Europa League and finish as second in Group C, just behind group leaders PSG.

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