Liverpool end Napoli's unbeaten run but fall short of top spot

Shining BD Desk || Shining BD

Published: 11/2/2022 4:29:02 AM

Liverpool ended Napoli's 21-game unbeaten run but a 2-0 win on Tuesday was not enough to dislodge the Italians from top spot in Champions League Group A.

Both sides were already guaranteed their places in the last 16, but Jurgen Klopp's men again shrugged off their Premier League problems on a European night at Anfield.

Mohamed Salah forced the ball over the line after Alex Meret just kept out Darwin Nunez's header five minutes from time.

Nunez then added a second with the last kick of the game to secure a fifth consecutive Champions League win for Liverpool since losing 4-1 to Napoli in September.

The comprehensive margin of that win meant Luciano Spalletti's just needed to avoid defeat by a four-goal margin to secure top spot.

"I had the feeling my team was kind of slowing down, knowing we had that margin," said Spalletti.

"Then they did well to take their chances in the end."

Liverpool never looked like inflicting that sort of damage despite naming a stronger than expected line-up with a trip to Tottenham to come in the Premier League on Sunday.

But they did manage to end Napoli's club record run on 13 straight wins and keep the free-scoring Italians scoreless for just the second time this season.

The Reds were beaten at home in the Premier League in front of a crowd for the first time in over five years in a 2-1 defeat to Leeds on Saturday.

"We showed a really good reaction," said Klopp.

"Being compact makes all the difference. All of a sudden we make challenges in the right places, all of a sudden we are difficult to play against.

"I think if you see what Napoli is able to do in the moment, it was a really good game for us."

Napoli arrived at Anfield having already scored 50 goals this season, but failed to produce their best without the motivation of having to win.

Thiago Alcantara forced Meret into the only significant save of a pedestrian first half.

Napoli upped the tempo after the break as they aimed to become just the second Italian side to ever win all six games in the Champions League group stage.

Leo Ostigard headed in Khvicha Kvaratskhelia's teasing free-kick, but the Norwegian was denied by a VAR review for offside.

Klopp sent on Nunez for the final 15 minutes in search of a winner and the Uruguayan made a telling impact.

Both goals came from corners as Nunez rose highest to meet Kostas Tsimikas' delvery and as Meret fumbled the ball off the line, Salah was on hand to smash home the rebound.

"To win against one of the best teams in the world is the best feeling," said Salah.

"We have to carry it on. It's a good result which will give us more confidence for in the cup and league."

Nunez nearly created a second for Salah with a determined run and cross that was deflected just beyond the Egyptian.

The former Benfica striker then tapped in his sixth goal of the season much to the chagrin of Virgil van Dijk.

Meret again got a hand to the Dutch defender's header and Nunez was initially flagged offside when he prodded the ball in as it was possibly on its way over the line.

However, another lengthy VAR review revealed Nunez was onside, allowing both he and Van Dijk to see the funny side.



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