This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 9 °C Sunday 13 October, 2019
Advertisement

Liveblog

39,083 Views 25 Comments
Share

*Clears throat*

The Chaaaaaaampionsssssss!

That felt great. Anyway…

Hello everyone, you’re very welcome along to our coverage of this evening’s clash between Napoli and Liverpool.

Not to be that guy but this season’s Champions League actually got underway on 25 June, believe it or not, as the mighty Lincoln Red Imps faced KF Feronikeli of Kosovo in the preliminary round (neither team qualified for the group stages and are long forgotten now).

The competition kicks off in earnest tonight with a rake of exciting affairs (Borussia Dortmund vs Barcelona anyone?), one of which pits Napoli and Liverpool against one another yet again.

If this fixture has a familiar feel to it, you’d be right. These sides met in the group stages last season and were also paired in the Europa League group stages way back in 2010/11 too.

In the intervening years since then the Reds have swapped unforgettable stars like Milan Jovanović, Paul Konchesky and (shudders) Christian Poulsen for real, proper stars like Mo Salah, Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho.

napoli-v-liverpool-uefa-champions-league-group-e-san-paolo-stadium Source: Tim Goode

Those dark, dark Europa League nights are long forgotten, and tonight sees Jurgen Klopp’s men begin their Champions League title defence on a gleeful high with a sixth star on their crests.

Liverpool have won all five of their Premier League fixtures this season and following Man City’s bizarre implosion at Norwich over the weekend, they are also five points clear at the summit (insert obligatory is this their year/this is their year joke here).

Liverpool lost 1-0 here at the San Paolo last season thanks to a 90th minute Lorenzo Insigne winner. Jurgen Klopp will be hoping for a change in fortunes tonight, vying to get his European title defence off to a winning start with three points on the road in Italy.

Stick with us, kick-off in Naples is coming up in an hour’s time at 8.00pm. FYI, tonight’s game is live on RTÉ 2 and BT Sport if you happen to be near a television.

Ah lads, it’s great to have the Champions League back. Let’s never mention Christian Poulsen’s Liverpool career again.

Let’s get started with the team news…

TEAM NEWS: Jurgen Klopp makes three changes from last weekend’s 3-1 victory over Newcastle at Anfield. Out go Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gini Wijnaldum and Divock Origi. In come Roberto Firmino, James Milner and Jordan Henderson.

Liverpool: Adrian, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Milner, Henderson, Mane, Salah, Firmino

Substitutes: Kelleher, Wijnaldum, Lovren, Gomez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lallana, Shaqiri

Napoli: Meret, Di Lorenzo, Manolas, Koulibaly, Mario Rui, Allan, Fabian, Callejon, Insigne, Mertens, Lozano.

Substitutes: Ospina, Llorente, Elmas, Maksimovic, Zielinski, Ghoulam, Milik.

How do you see tonight’s game going? Let us know below!


Poll Results:

Liverpool win (168)
Napoli win (70)
Draw (60)



Great to see Ireland U21 goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher amongst the substitutes for Liverpool again.

With Alisson still sidelined, the Cork native is now acting as regular back-up goalkeeper to Adrian.

Kelleher picked up a Champions League winners’ medal back in May despite not even making his senior competitive debut for Liverpool yet.

The 20-year-old has more Champions League titles than Buffon, Bergkamp, Totti and Ibrahimovic combined. Some going.

tottenham-hotspur-fc-liverpool Source: DPA/PA Images

Incredibly, Liverpool failed to produce a single shot on target the last time these sides met in Naples a year ago.

Lorenzo Insigne’s late, late strike bagged a dramatic 1-0 win for Napoli right at the death. At that stage in the group, it looked like Liverpool could have been heading for third place in Group C with daunting challenges against PSG to come.

It was the first time in 74 games that the Reds failed to produce a single effort on goal. Jurgen Klopp’s men rallied late on in Group C, though, beating Carlo Ancelotti’s side at Anfield to passage through to the knockout stages when they met again.

Source: Giornal de/YouTube

What the managers have said…

Carlo Ancelotti: “We’re playing the best team in Europe and they haven’t dropped any points in the Premier League yet.

“The result is very important in matches like this but it’s even more important we have the confidence to match the best teams out there.

“Last year we were in a really tough group and we very nearly qualified. We’re determined to erase the disappointment of last season, which had a psychological effect on us in Serie A too.”

liverpool-v-napoli-uefa-champions-league-group-c-anfield Source: Martin Rickett

Jurgen Klopp: “Last year, we learned from one game to the next game and we have to use that experience, because if we don’t defend with all we have then we have no chance against Napoli. They are so strong.

“They are stubborn in a positive way. They play football, they break lines, they have good counter-attacks, they are creative. I enjoy it when I analyse Napoli. I like to watch them.

“Last season, we were really good. I’m not too sure we were the best team in Europe, but we were really good in the right moments and that’s why we won the Champions League.”

That wonderful, wonderful Champions League anthem has just been belted around the San Paolo emphatically. Both sets of players shake hands and we’re all ready to go. 

KICK-OFF: We’re underway in Naples for the first half!

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

2 mins: A slight delay due to an issue with German referee Felix Brych’s communications system, but we’re finally underway. Napoli enjoying an early spell of possession but Mohamed Salah closes down rapidly to force a corner.

napoli-v-liverpool-uefa-champions-league-group-e-san-paolo-stadium Source: Tim Goode

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

3 mins: Virgil van Dijk rises high to try and head an effort on target from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s outswinging corner, but Roberto Firmino is flagged for offside and it’s a free out for Napoli.

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

5 mins: Down the other end Dries Mertens’ low cross is headed wide by van Dijk and the hosts win a corner. Liverpool clear at the first hudle and break on the counter, but Mo Salah is forced out wide for a throw-in.

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

6 mins: Mertens wins possession down the right wing really well and tries to pick out Hirving Lozano breaking into space, but Joel Matip intervenes by stabbing his leg out. An important interception. 

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

7 mins: Adrian produces two magnificent saves to keep the scoreline level. Napoli switch on the style inside the box, Lozano popping up with two powerful shots from close range. The Spanish goalkeeper is equal to them, making consecutive stops, and eventually the attack is halted as the linesman raises his flag for offside.

napoli-v-liverpool-uefa-champions-league-group-e-san-paolo-stadium Source: Tim Goode

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

10 mins: Allan lofts a clever ball over the top looking for the run of Lorenzo Insigne. It’s a dangerous move, but Joel Matip reads the danger good and early, cutting across in front of Insigne before running away with the ball.

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

12 mins: It’s been a really strong start by Napoli here, you have to say. Liverpool find a little bit of respite and venture forward. Fabinho finds time and space and releases a shot from distance, but it’s comfortably blocked down.

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

14 mins: Lozano breaks away again in space, leaving Matip for dead behind him. The Mexico international dribbles tentatively towards the edge of the box and has a pop, but Virgil van Dijk stands in his way and produces a block.

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

16 mins: More danger for Liverpool. Fabian Ruiz is completely free at the back post and cuts a dangerous cross back into the box. He’s looking for Insigne, Lorenzo — anybody — just to get a touch, but van Dijk gets there first and lumps the ball clear.

napoli-v-liverpool-uefa-champions-league-group-e-san-paolo-stadium Source: Tim Goode

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

19 mins: A good, patient move from Liverpool after a sustained period of pressure battling it out at the back. Sadio Mane finds Andy Robertson, who picks out Jordan Henderson. The captain tries to slip through Salah in front, but Henderson’s pass is overhit and treads out wide.

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

22 mins: Close! Liverpool with their biggest chance of the game so far. Henderson chips a lovely ball into the path of Mane. He takes the ball across his body and finds the target with a left-footed effort. Goalkeeper Alex Meret does really well to stay on his feet as long as possible, before batting the ball wide for a corner.

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

24 mins: Almost again for the visitors. Salah dribbles past Kalidou Koulibaly like he isn’t there inside the box, but the Egyptian’s left-footed shot right in front of goal is blocked down heroically by Konstantinos Manolas at the last second.

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

26 mins: Napoli getting more success down the right flank. Mertens feeds a low ball towards Lozano but his cross is forced wide for a corner. Ancelotti’s side really beginning to get on top now as we approach the half hour mark.

napoli-v-liverpool-uefa-champions-league-group-e-san-paolo-stadium Source: Tim Goode

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

29 mins: Trent Alexander-Arnold with some important defending there. Dries Mertens had a clear run through on goal to try and test Adrian, but the England international tracked his man all the way, cut across him, and won the ball fairly. An important interception again.

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

32 mins: Liverpool really struggling to hold onto possession at the minute. The home supporters inside the San Paolo are creating a serious amount of noise. That positive energy is seeping onto the pitch and back into the stands again as the Italian’s enjoy the upper hand. 

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

35 mins: It’s like a finely poised chess match out there now. Allan is dictating play sitting in front of his defence, but the hosts are struggling to break down that Liverpool back four. In possession at the other end James Milner and Jordan Henderson are trying to get things going, but to no avail. A proper stand-off.

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

38 mins: Mohamed Salah cuts inside on the right wing and has a pop aiming for Meret’s bottom corner. But the Liverpool attacker fails to make proper contact with the ball, and his shot is scuffed easily wide of the post. A poor shot.

italy-soccer-champions-league Source: AP/PA Images

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

41 mins: Klopp’s side enjoying a good bit more of the ball now. Andy Robertson and James Milner string a handful of passes together before the ball is floated into the box towards Roberto Firmino. Manolas heads clear.

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

43 mins: This game started off at a somewhat frantic pace with chances at both ends, but proceedings are quite subdued out there as we come towards half-time. Some players looking a little tired and bereft of ideas in the final third.

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

44 mins: Much better play from Liverpool down the left wing. Firmino picks out the run of Milner towards the box, who then tries to fizz a low cross over to Salah at the far post, but Di Lorenzo gets across in time and boots the ball away.

Flag

HALF-TIME: NAPOLI 0-0 LIVERPOOL

Referee Felix Brych blows his whistle for half-time. An absorbing opening 45 minutes in Naples but no goals yet as the sides remain level at 0-0.

Napoli have been on top for spells — those incredibly quick attacking options of Mertens, Insigne, Callejon and Lozano causing all sorts of problems down the flanks up against Robertson and Alexander-Arnold.

napoli-v-liverpool-uefa-champions-league-group-e-san-paolo-stadium Source: Tim Goode

For Liverpool, Salah, Firmino and Mane have struggled to cut through their opponents in the devastating fashion we’re all accustomed to seeing. But considering Liverpool failed to produce a single shot on target at this ground last season, it’s been a big improvement.

There have been odd chances here-and-there for Jurgen Klopp’s men, but nothing which goalkeeper Alex Meret hasn’t been able to handle and keep under wraps.

Very evenly-poised at the break. More to come in a bit!

Flag

Second-half: We’re back underway at the San Paolo!

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

47 mins: Almost a chance right from the get-go for Liverpool. Roberto Firmino finds himself in space right on the edge of the box. He tries to look up and pick out Sadio Mane making a run, but the ball is intercepted and hoofed clear.

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

50 mins: Mane almost breaks away against the run of play, but Dries Mertens does brilliantly to track all the way back, toe-poke the ball away from the Liverpool attacker and end the danger. Tremendous work-rate from the Belgian there.

napoli-v-liverpool-uefa-champions-league-group-e-san-paolo-stadium Source: Tim Goode

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

52 mins: Close! Mario Rui chips the ball towards the back post where Mertens is completely free. He has the whole goal to aim at, but somehow his volley is palmed away by the left hand of Adrian. A bloody phenomenal save, my word.

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

54 mins: Down the other end Mo Salah sends a cross towards Sadio Mane from the right wing. Mane controls the ball brilliantly and tries to get a shot away, but Giovanni Di Lorenzo produces some excellent defending to chip the ball away with the deftest of touches.

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

57 mins: Brilliant opportunity for Liverpool on the counter-attack from a Napoli corner. Sadio Mane sprints into space and tries to pass across to Salah. The pass is awfully executed, though, and the attack comes to nothing. Really poor.

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

60 mins: Andy Robertson collects a yellow card from the referee after the Scotland captain was caught dragging out of Jose Callejon. Robertson pleads his innocence but the booking stands.

champions-league-napoli-vs-liverpool Source: Cafaro/Lapresse

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

62 mins: Another decent chance for Liverpool which comes to nothing. A lofted ball towards the back post finds Salah free and in space. He tries to smack it first time on his right boot, but he fails to make a proper connection and the ball trickles out wide.

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

65 mins: Frustration continuing to build for both sides out there. Nothing is coming off in an attacking sense and there quite a few feisty challenges flying in left and right. Getting very heated out there with 25 minutes left to go.

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

67 mins: Save! Alex Meret produces a brilliant save to deny Salah. Liverpool did really well to punish some lax defending, the ball fell invitingly for the Egyptian star to hit — which he did — but Meret dashed across his line and forced the ball wide.

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

70 mins: Twenty minutes left to go. Allan has gone down needing some medical attention, the midfielder appearing to suffer a bit of cramp. It’s still evenly-matched out there, but no final product from either side. Will there be a late winner?

napoli-v-liverpool-uefa-champions-league-group-e-san-paolo-stadium Source: Tim Goode

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

73 mins: Mane races clear on goal and tries to guide the ball beyond Meret into the bottom corner, but goalkeeper does well to get down and make the save. A big chance, but we’re still scoreless.

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

77 mins: Jordan Henderson and Fabinho pushing high and stroking the ball left and right, but there’s a real lack of penetration in attack. That centre back pairing of Manolas and Koulibaly are looking strong and in control.

napoli-v-liverpool-uefa-champions-league-group-e-san-paolo-stadium Source: Tim Goode

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

80 mins: A steady passage of passing play sees the ball fly out wide towards Trent Alexander-Arnold. He delivers a dangerous, curling cross right into the mixer, but Sadio Mane just can’t get his foot to it — and the ball drifts wide. Very close to a breakthrough for Liverpool.

Flag

Napoli 0-0 Liverpool

80 mins: PENALTY TO NAPOLI! Andy Robertson kicks out at Jose Callejon inside the box and the referee points to the spot. Late drama in Naples as the hosts have the chance to take the lead.

Flag

Napoli 1-0 Liverpool

84 mins: Mertens slots it home and Adrian looks so frustrated. He guessed correctly, dived the right way into his bottom left corner, but his hand just wasn’t strong enough to keep the ball out. The Napoli supporters inside the San Paolo are absolutely elated.

Napoli 1-0 Liverpool

85 mins: Liverpool fly down the other end to try and nick an equaliser. The ball bounces and bobbles dangerously as Sadio Mane tries to stab it home, but it’s forced wide for a corner kick with five minutes to go.

Napoli 1-0 Liverpool

88 mins: That backline of Di Lorenzo, Manolas, Koulibaly and Mario Rui are staying composed inside these final few minutes. Klopp’s men have all of the ball but can’t find a way through. Just a couple of minutes left to go.

italy-soccer-champions-league Source: AP/PA Images

Napoli 1-0 Liverpool

90 mins: Almost a second for Napoli against the run of play. Callejon battles down the right wing and sends a dangerous cross into the box. He was trying to pick out the tall and imposing frame of Fernando Llorentre, but the big Spaniard couldn’t make contact with a header.

Napoli 1-0 Liverpool

90 mins:  There will be five minutes of stoppage time at the end of the second half. Liverpool still chasing a late equaliser here.

Flag

Napoli 2-0 Liverpool

91 mins: GOALLLLL! Napoli add a second in injury time to wrap up their victory and seal all three points. It’s a horror show at the back for Liverpool as Virgil van Dijk’s backward pass is not dealt with. Adrian and Andy Robertson both went for it, neither knew if the other would take possession, and in swooped Fernando Llorente to slip the ball into the back of the net.

Napoli 2-0 Liverpool

93 mins: A couple of minutes remaining in stoppage time here, but this game is over as a contest now. The Napoli supporters are in fine voice after Llorente’s goal made sure. They know they’re on their way t all three points, as Liverpool begin their title defence with a defeat in Naples.

Flag

FULL-TIME: NAPOLI 2-0 LIVERPOOL

It’s over all in Naples as referee Felix Brych blows his whistle. Liverpool begin the defence of their Champions League crown with a disappointing defeat in Italy thanks to second-half goals from Dries Mertens and Fernando Llorente.

An absorbing opening 45 minutes saw the sides go into the break all square. In truth, it was an even contest all along right until Andy Robertson brought down Jose Callejon inside the box.

italy-soccer-champions-league Source: AP/PA Images

Mertens put the penalty away and from there Carlo Ancelotti’s side remained resolute, patrolled diligently by Konstantinos Manolas and Kalidou Koulibaly in defence. Llorente wrapped up the win in injury time, capitalising on some dreadful defending by Virgil van Dijk and Robertson.

Thanks for joining us for our coverage tonight — you can read our full match report here. Cya soon!

About the author:

Aaron Gallagher

COMMENTS (25)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel