It may not matter much in terms of table space in Champions League Group A, but Liverpool managed to win back Napoli (to some extent) for embarrassing them at the Diego Armando Maradona stadium at the start of the campaign. . Liverpool thrashed Napoli 2-0 at Anfield on Tuesday night thanks to late goals from Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez.
The game of the best teams
With Liverpool playing so much better than they have in recent Premier League matches, it really was a competition between two teams of the highest caliber. The evening was won by the hosts, but it could easily have ended differently if fate had decreed otherwise.
Even though the game couldn’t change much unless Liverpool win by four goals or more, which is unlikely to happen, both teams went into a fight with everything they had. They could have big internal clashes at the end of the week, especially at Napoli, but neither Spalletti nor Jurgen Klopp wanted to rest too many players.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp deployed his team in what was basically a 4-4-2 diamond formation with Curtis Jones playing closest to Roberto Firmino and Salah in front while James Milner and Thiago Alcantara covered the flanks and Fabinho sat at the base, just ahead of the back line of Virgil van Dijk, Ibrahima Konate, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kostas Tsimikas. Andy Robertson remained on the bench, as did Nunes.
Napoli used the classic 4-3-3 formation with Viktor Osimkhen in first place, with Khvich Kvaratskhelia and Matteo Politano on the flanks. Stanislav Lobotka was a mainstay of the midfield, while Andre Zambo Anguissa and Tanguy Ndombele played box-to-box roles. Behind, Leo Ostigard played in tandem with Kim Min Jae, Mathias Olivera played on the left, and captain Giovanni Di Lorenzo on the right.
Statistically, Liverpool had just beaten Napoli with 53% possession and 14 shots, while Luciano Spalletti’s men scored 10. Jones in the fifth minute. but the guests quickly raised their level to strike a good balance on the field, and made threats at the other end from time to time. Kvaratskhelia, so lethal this season on Napoli’s left attacking flank, failed to make the contribution he might have hoped for, and Alexander-Arnold silenced many critics with his fine defensive play along with Konate’s formidable frame.
Salah looked lively on the other end, but Kim and Olivera were mostly willing to keep the Egyptian as far away from Alex Meret’s net as possible. At 28th For a minute, Salah decided not to shoot on goal himself after seeing Thiago coming down the center and set the Spaniard up for a shot from around 20 yards, but Meret was on guard. At 42thJones released Salah with a fantastic pass behind the backs of the defenders and Meret quickly moved off the line to make a great save just before the linesman’s flag went up.
Napoli sent the ball into the goal first through Ostigard, but that would have been 53rdThe first minute was eventually ruled out by VAR due to a rather narrow offside by the Norwegian defender when Kvaratskhelia crossed from a free kick from the left. It was a moment of notable luck for Liverpool as it was probably no more than a couple of inches and the linesman definitely couldn’t be blamed for making a mistake.
Salah failed to score for Liverpool in 81.st. minute, when he put Alexander-Arnold’s ball on target and forced Meret to make another save, but the Napoli goalkeeper was powerless to prevent Salah from throwing the ball over the goal line four minutes later after he did well enough to deflect a powerful header from Nunez, who had previously replaced Jones.
Napoli, of course, went looking for a late equalizer from now on, but the disappointment seen in their eyes always seemed more likely to concede the second goal, which they did at the end. It was literally the last fight of the match, right at the end of seven minutes of stoppage time, when Meret deflected a Virgil van Dijk header, only to see Nunez rebound. VAR worked again, and after a long check, the goal was upheld.
Despite losing, the first of the season in any competition, Napoli finished top of the group and would therefore have a more favorable round of 16 draw than Liverpool, at least on paper. Both teams scored 15 points in six games, losing only to each other.
They can now return to their domestic affairs, where Napoli will take on Serie A runners-up Atalanta on Saturday and, if they win, they will be at least six points clear at the top of the table. Liverpool will travel to North London to face Tottenham Hotspur and currently ninth in the Premier League they are desperate for all the points they can get to climb up. Klopp, however, understands that getting anything from this match will not be an easy task.
The former Benfica striker has been on the pitch for a total of 24 minutes, including a lot of stoppage time. During this time, he managed to hit the target with a beautiful header that preceded Salah’s first, almost help the Egyptian score a second goal, get a yellow card for an unnecessary fight with Giacomo Raspadori, and finally score a second goal. score yourself the last hit of the match.
It was obviously a highly noteworthy cameo for the 24-year-old who caused a lot of controversy by signing for Liverpool, costing Liverpool up to £85m with bonuses. Full of temperament but also talented, capable of letting sitters through but also scoring goals, Nunez can obviously be Liverpool’s new Luis Suarez, but he could also be the new Mario Balotelli if he doesn’t get better. on a couple of aspects of his game.
As shown by the red card he received against Crystal Palace earlier in the season, he needs to learn to control his temper, although it must be said that after the incident he is fine with that. He also needs to improve his ability to make decisions in the last third, as well as work on his composure to start converting clear odds without too much fuss.
Interestingly, only Manchester City star Erling Haaland, Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic have a better minute-to-goal ratio than Nunez in the Premier League this season. Take away the penalty and it’s only Haaland.