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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Alisson saves Liverpool, denies Napoli with late heroics

A marvellous goal from Mohamed Salah in the first half and a wonderful save by Alisson in the second sees Liverpool over Napoli in the Champions League.

Update:
Liverpool's Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson Becker (2R) saves a shot from Napoli's Polish striker Arkadiusz Milik (L) during the UEFA Champions League group C football match between Liverpool and Napoli at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, north west E
PAUL ELLISAFP

Liverpool 1-0 Napoli: match report

In Liverpool's most decisive game in Europe since their Champions League final against Real Madrid, Alisson, their massive summer splurge, saved them at the death from an Arkadiusz Milik effort. That save and the Mohamed Salah goal in the first half helped them to second place in Group C as Napoli stumble into the Europa League in third place at Anfield on Tuesday night.

The Italian side needed a draw to make it into the last 16 of the competition but Liverpool, at home, and just after taking top spot in the Premier League at the weekend had their tactics spot on with the intensity in their play to match. Their shooting boots? Not so much.

Klopp's side would send 17 shots towards goal with seven of them on target and almost all of them poorly finished except for Salah's sublime finish after heavy pressure in the 34th minute.

The Egyptian kept Mario Rui, who he was wearing like a cloak, at bay and spun around him to break free and latch onto andy Robertson's pass into the penalty area. He had Koulibaly to beat on the right hand side of the penalty box but with a drop of the shoulder and a neat touch with his left, he was through on goal albeit at a very tight angle. He threw a little glance into the center, which threw David Ospina off completely as he finished at the near post with precision.

Liverpool continued to batter down Ospina's goal but few shots really troubled the Colombian. Sadio Mané went closest when Salah squared to him but his shot from close range hit the side netting. Firmino had a header that landed at Ospina's feet and Van Dijk drove a volley over the bar too. Klopp applauded every missed chance and egged his side on but he won't be happy with the standard of finishing, which left the tie open until the death.

As the light faded on the Italians hopes, Napoli got their second wind. They had a chance through Milik as Lovren got lost in the middle. The Polish player struck it but Alisson's quick thinking saw him close the angle, which forced the striker to shoot a rushed effort at his leg. It was a save in stark contrast to what happened in Cardiff in the final last May with a couple of goalkeeping erros leading to a Real Madrid win.

At Anfield on Tuesday night though, Liverpool kept their second clean sheet in six games in the Champions League and their three wins in those encounters was enough to see them through, along with PSG, from one of the toughest groups possible where they learned a lot about themselves. Not least that the signing of Alisson could take them where they need to go this year.

Liverpool vs Napoli live online: match commentary and updates

Liverpool vs Napoli live online: preview

It's all to play for in Group C with Napoli travelling to Liverpool in need of a win with their hosts just as desperate for all a result. Red Star Belgrade welcome PSG but the neither Klopp or Ancelotti's sides will be paying any mind to things in Serbia with a winner takes all game at Anfield. Napoli only technically need a draw but if they don't get that, they will be relying on results elsewhere with Ancelotti expected to come out in a progressive manner at the home of the current Premier League leaders.

Liverpool are coming off an impressive visit to Bournemouth in the Premier League and with Manchester City losing to Chelsea, it means the Premier League's top spot belongs to Klopp's men. They remain unbeaten in the domestic competition but their results in Europe have been another story. They have won just two of their five games so far with a particularly worrying display against Red Stae Belgrade that ended in a loss leaving them in the position they are in tonight. They also lost to a late Napoli winner in the first fixture between these two sides. Klopp knows what Anfield can mean in terms of pressure on the opposing side and he has asked for the fans to bring the noise on Tuesday night. Of that there seems little doubt, but can the players match the fans' intensity? They haven't been able to so far in the Champions League.

As far as team news goes, Liverpool have two notable absences from their campaign this year. Dejan Lovren is only returning from a concussion but has made the squad while Joe Gomez, who recently signed a new long term contract with the club, is out with a broken ankle.

Napoli are coming in hot themselves with a 4-0 win over Frosinone in Serie A but they remain eight points behind Juventus in the league. Aurelio De Laurentiis, the club's president, said he will not sack Ancelotti even if they fail to qualify for the Champions League's knockout stages. Ancelotti is missing the services of Vlad Chiriches and Simone Verdi for the trip to Liverpool.

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