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Dublin: 4°C Saturday 26 September 2020


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Good evening! And welcome along to our live Champions League coverage, as Liverpool bid to avoid early elimination from Group C, with Jurgen Klopp’s side needing either a 1-0 victory over Napoli or to win by two clear goals to advance through to the knockout stages. 

The Italian visitors, meanwhile, require just a point to book their place in the last 16, so it’s all set up for a classic European night under the lights at Anfield. 

Kick off is at 8pm, and we’ll have all the build-up between now and then. 

TEAM NEWS: Hot off the press, here is Jurgen Klopp’s starting XI. Sadio Mane returns to the side to start up top alongside Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah, while captain Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold are also promoted from the bench following Saturday’s Premier League win at Bournemouth. 

Xherdan Shaqiri, Fabinho and Naby Keita all make way, while Dejan Lovren is back on the bench after missing the last three games with concussion. 

Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson, Wijnaldum, Henderson, Milner, Salah, Firmino, Mane.

Subs: Mignolet, Fabinho, Lovren, Keita, Sturridge, Shaqiri, Origi.

TEAM NEWS: As for the visitors, this is the side Carlo Ancelotti has named for tonight’s make-or-break encounter at Anfield. He has made seven changes in total with all the big names — including Hamsik, Mertens and Insigne — starting.

Napoli: Ospina, Maksimovic, Albiol, Koulibaly, Rui, Allan, Hamsik, Fabian, Callejon, Mertens, Insigne.

Subs: Karnezis, Ounas, Zielinski, Hysaj, Ghoulam, Diawara, Milik.

We’ll also be keeping an eye on events at the Camp Nou this evening, as Tottenham look to record a famous win to ensure their progress through from Group B.

Up against already-qualified Barcelona, Spurs need to equal or better Inter Milan’s result to go through, with the Italian side hosting PSV at the San Siro this evening. 

The good news for the Mauricio Pochettino’s men is that Lionel Messi is not included in Barca’s starting XI, as Ernesto Valverde makes wholesale changes to the XI that started in the 4-0 La Liga win at Espanyol.

HOW IT STANDS: After defeat in Paris in matchday five, Liverpool find themselves walking a Champions League tightrope, but they do have their fate in their hands.

Napoli lead the way on nine points, PSG are second in Group C on eight and Klopp’s side are sitting in third on six points heading into the deciding set of games.  

Screen Shot 2018-12-11 at 19.27.51 Source: Uefa

Liverpool are unbeaten in 18 successive European matches at Anfield — but can they get the result they need tonight?

Poll Results:

Liverpool to go through (250)
Liverpool to win, but fail to go through (68)
Napoli to go through  (54)

The teams are in the house, as kick off approaches.

gettyimages-1071835770-594x594 Source: Liverpool FC via Getty Images



The atmosphere is really building at Anfield, as the teams get ready to enter the cauldron. 

The equation is straightforward for Liverpool: They will go through if they beat Napoli 1-0 or win by two clear goals. Additionally, if PSG fail to beat Red Star Belgrade, any victory sends the Reds through.


2 mins – Bright start from Napoli as they attack the Kop end in this first half, but Robertson is in quickly to make an important intervention. 


5 mins – Salah has started on the right-hand side of Liverpool’s attack, with Firmino playing in a central role. 


6 mins — Chance! Ohhh. Mo Salah. Robertson delivers a brilliant ball in for the unmarked Salah, but the Egyptian fails to control with only the ‘keeper to beat. First chance of the night. 


7 mins – At the other end, Napoli show how dangerous they are, as Hamsik comes very close to giving the visitors the lead with a curling effort from the edge of the area. 


8 mins — Chance! It’s really open already at Anfield and Milner is the latest player to have a sight of goal, as he gets on the end of a cross from the right, but is unable to keep his header on target. 


10 mins – There has been an early game at the Camp Nou and it’s bad news for Spurs, who trail Barcelona through Ousmane Dembele seventh-minute strike. 


13 mins — Yellow! Virgil van Dijk wins the ball but catches Mertens in his follow through, and is shown a yellow card by the referee. Liverpool aren’t happy with the decision, but the Dutch defender will be suspended for the next round should the Reds get through. 


15 mins – PSG have just taken the lead away at Red Star Belgrade through Edinson Cavani. If that score stays the same, either Liverpool or Napoli are going out tonight.


18 mins — Napoli are pressing high but Liverpool’s passing game is just beginning to click and their forward trio are finding space between the lines. It remains scoreless at Anfield.


20 mins – Dries Merten is back on after receiving treatment. Liverpool playing with a higher tempo but there’s very little between the sides, with Napoli working incredibly hard off the ball. 


23 mins — Goal….no, it’s disallowed. Liverpool have the ball in the net but the linesman’s flag is up on the far side. Mane converts from close range but he was standing in an offside position when the cross came in. The hosts dominating now. 


26 mins — The Reds are probing. Salah gets the ball at his feet in the box but Napoli have numbers in defence to snuff him out, and then the pressure is relieved when the referee adjudges Mane to have fouled the ‘keeper. 

Flag 35Mins

33 mins — GOAL! Liverpool 1-0 Napoli (Salah)

Liverpool have the breakthrough, and it’s that man Mo Salah! He shows his strength to roll the challenge of Mario Rui and then poise to shimmy past Kalidou Koulibaly, before giving Ospina the eyes and tucking it through the ‘keeper’s legs from a tight angle. 


36 mins – Anfield has erupted, and rightly so. A moment of real quality from Salah and, as things stand, Liverpool are progressing through in second place behind PSG. 


37 mins – Mo Salah has now scored nine goals in nine Champions League appearances at Anfield. Only Steven Gerrard (14) has scored more for Liverpool in their Champions League history.


40 mins — Yellow! Koulibaly is correctly shown yellow for a foul on Salah on the far side, but the set-piece comes to nothing. That goal was certainly coming and Liverpool are fully deserving of their lead.


45 mins – Three minutes of injury time has been added at the end of the first half at Anfield. 



45 + 1 mins – It’s half-time at the Camp Nou, where Barcelona lead Spurs, while back at Anfield, Liverpool are searching for a second as we approach the break. 


Half-time! Liverpool 1-0 Napoli

And the whistle goes on Merseyside, where Liverpool lead and, as things stand, are going through to the last 16 of the Champions League. So far, so good for Klopp’s men. 


Here’s Liverpool’s breakthrough goal, which arrived courtesy of one, Mo Salah.


46 mins – We’re in for a big 45 minutes of football at Anfield. Liverpool, attacking the Kop, have won an early corner.


47 mins – Milner gets two bites of the cherry from the set-piece, but Ospina comes off his line to claim convincingly. It’ll be interesting to see how Napoli approach this, knowing they need to find a goal or else face elimination. 


50 mins — Chance! Napoli squander possession easily and Henderson pounces to free Salah, but the Liverpool forward is unable to make it count on that occasion, firing wide at the near post.


53 mins – Liverpool are looking very comfortable at the moment. They’re in control of the contest and are coming closer to adding a second, while not giving Napoli an inch to find a route back into it — but it could all change in a flash. 


56 mins – Having soaked up all the pressure at one end, Napoli look to strike at the other. Raul Albiol gets a good run in his man but his header from an out-swinging corner lacks power and is easily gathered by Alisson. 


60 mins – There has been a couple of quick goals in Belgrade, where PSG now lead 2-1. Neymar got the French champions’ second, before Marko Gobeljic pulled one back for the hosts after the break. 


61 mins – Henderson tries his luck from range and strikes it sweetly, but Ospina is smartly down to make the stop. Napoli are preparing to make their first change.


62 mins — Close! Liverpool are all over Napoli. Mane links with Milner beautifully and the England international has space to run into, before bending one towards the far corner but is unable to bring it back far enough to trouble Ospina. 


63 mins – Napoli have been really poor so far, with Ancelotti forced into making his first change. Fabian makes way for Piotr Zielinski as we pass the hour mark at Anfield.


65 mins — Spurs are trailing Barcelona at the Camp Nou, but Pochettino’s men are currently going through as things stand, as Inter are losing at home to PSV. Still a long way to go…


67 mins – Napoli make their second sub, with Milik on for Mertens. 


70 mins – Napoli are starting to pose a real threat after making those changes. Liverpool pressed into defensive mode for the time being, and they deal with the corner from the left comfortably. There won’t be many nails left in Anfield after this one. 


72 mins – Final throw of the dice from Ancelotti, as he springs Faouzi Ghoulam into action in place of Mario Rui. How are the nerves, Liverpool fans?


73 mins — Save! Salah streaks through on goal but his forced wide by Ospina, before the Napoli ‘keeper is quickly back to his feet to claw the Liverpool forward’s chipped effort away as he scrambled back. 


76 mins — Save! Ospina to the rescue for Napoli again. Brilliant inter-change play from Liverpool as they counter through Robertson, who picks out Mane in the middle but his close-range effort is blocked by the ‘keeper. 


77 mins — Chance! Oh, van Dijk comes close on this occasion. He is left completely unmarked at the back post but can’t keep his volley down. The flag actually went up as he struck it, so it wouldn’t have counted in any case. 


78 mins — How did he miss!? Robertson fails to deal with a low cross and it falls to Callejon at the back post, but he can only fire over from a couple of yards out. A let off for the Reds. 


83 mins – Changes for Liverpool. Klopp brings Keita and Fabinho on for Firmino and Milner.


85 mins – Huge goal for Spurs in Barcelona. Lucas Moura has drawn Pochettino’s side level and, as things stand, they’re going through!


85 mins – Into the final five minutes at Anfield. 


86 mins — What a miss! Liverpool should be two goals clear, but Mane misses an absolute sitter, after being set up by Salah. 


87 mins – Liverpool have had 21 attempts this evening.


89 mins – Will Liverpool rue these missed opportunities? Alexander-Arnold picked up a heavy bang there and Klopp isn’t taking any chances, replacing him with Lovren. 


90 mins – Four minutes of added time.


90 + 1 mins – Last chance saloon for Napoli. They don’t really deserve an equaliser but they’re still in with a shout. Throwing everything at Liverpool…


90 + 1 mins — ALISSON!!! Oh. My. Word. Everybody misses a ball into the box and Milik has the chance to snatch an equaliser from close range, but the Liverpool ‘keeper produces a brilliant save. 


90 + 3 mins – Liverpool are nearly there but that was an almighty scare. Into the final minute at Anfield…


90 + 4 mins – Mane is in again but pulls his effort wide. Napoli are still in it…last chance.


Full-time! Liverpool 1-0 Napoli

Jurgen Klopp’s side are through to the Champions League last 16. 

Relief for Liverpool as they get the job done to secure their passage through to the knockout stages, but they made hard work of it. Klopp’s side produced a good performance but were unable to make their dominance count, and Alisson was forced to make a brilliant late save to deny Napoli. 

Full report on a night of heart-stopping drama from Anfield is here.

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About the author:

Ryan Bailey


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