Napoli 2-0 Liverpool: Champions League 2019/2020 Group E
Napoli 2-0 Liverpool: as it happened
In Group E's other game tonight, Red Bull Salzburg - for whom Erling Braut Haaland grabbed the first ever first-half hat-trick in a Champions League match - thumped Genk 6-2 to go top of the table on goal difference after matchday one.
It is the on-fire Austrians, a side that have now scored 33 goals in the process of winning their last seven games, who are up next for Liverpool, at Anfield on 2 October.
Meanwhile, fresh from downing the European champions, and gaining some small measure of revenge for last term's Champions League elimination at the hands of Jürgen Klopp's men, Napoli will go to Genk. Thanks for reading!
Peeep peep peeeeeep!
It's all over at the Stadio San Paolo, where two late Napoli goals mean it's defeat for Liverpool in their Champions League opener - the first time the European Cup holders have lost their maiden game of the following continental campaign since AC Milan way back in 1994.
As an open, entertaining affair headed into its final 10 minutes, it was the Reds who were looking the likelier to snatch a goal; however, all that changed when Andy Robertson was - seemingly harshly - adjudged to have felled José Callejón in the box.
Dries Merten promptly converted from the spot, before substitute Fernando Llorente sealed the points for Napoli - and for a second straight season, Liverpool have tasted group-stage defeat in Naples.
They won't be avoiding defeat! Llorente doubles Napoli's lead! It's a very strange goal. Mertens harries Van Dijk on the right, and when the Dutchman only succeeds in playing a hospital ball into his area in the general direction of Robertson, Llorente nips in ahead of the Scot to prod past Adrián!
Callejón's cross from the right flies just over the head of Llorente - who, incidentally, was booked a few moments ago. Five minutes of time added on at the San Paolo. Five minutes for Liverpool to avoid beginning their Champions League defence with defeat.
Shaqiri is on for Henderson.
Liverpool win a corner, which is worked to Alexander-Arnold to swing towards the back stick - and his second attempt at delivering skims off Manolas' head... but flies just past the post! Fabinho then heads the resulting corner well off target.
Having started to look much the likelier to find a winner, Liverpool now have seven minutes plus stoppage time to avoid losing in Naples for a second straight season.
Mertens converts! Adrián gets a hand to the Belgian's kick, but can't prevent the ball from finding the bottom corner. 1-0 to Napoli!
And just as I say that Liverpool are on top, Napoli win a penalty! Robertson wafts a leg at Callejón, who tumbles... and Felix Brych points to the spot! The decision is upheld in the VAR booth - despite the Scot seeming to make minimal contact with the former Real Madrid man - and Mertens will take.
Ufff! Mané is inches away from connecting with a sweetly-struck Alexander-Arnold ball to the back post.
Salah is the next Liverpool man to play a one-two with Firmino, but is run off it as he looks to snaffle the return and pull the trigger on the edge of the area. The Reds have been having much the better of it in recent minutes.
Napoli make that final substitution, the struggling Allan making way for Elmas.
Mané plays a neat one-two with Firmino, whose return ball leaves the Senegalese in space to shoot inside the box - but his low effort is right down Meret's gullet. Quarter of an hour to go in Italy.
It's now 6-2 in Salzburg. Blimey.
Mané plays a one-two with Fabinho and looks to scamper into the Napoli box, but his touch is heavy and the hosts clear. Allan is down and appears unable to continue; a third and final change for the Partenopei is in the offing.
A second substitution for Napoli: Lozano is off, to be replaced by Fernando Llorente - whose last Champions League appearance, for Tottenham in June's final, was also against Liverpool, of course.
Both sides make their first changes of the night. Wijnaldum is on in place of Milner for Liverpool, while Zielinski replaces Insigne for the hosts.
There's a great chance for Salah, and an equally great save by Meret! Manolas makes an almighty hash of his clearance, slicing it right to the Liverpool forward, who is in acres of space to advance into the box and shoot. However, Napoli's goalkeeper produces a flying stop to keep out Salah's angled effort!
Wiljnaldum is preparing to come on for Liverpool.
Robertson bursts into space on the left and, as he advances towards the Napoli area, cuts it across to Firmino - but the immense Koulibaly is again there to snuff the danger out. James Milner was booked a few moments ago for a lunging tackle on Callejón, by the way.
Fabinho is penalised for bringing down Allan, and Napoli have a chance to swing it in from the right wing. Callejón stands over it, but Adrián gathers comfortably.
Robertson is the first man into the referee's notebook after pulling down Callejón.
Oh dear Mané, that is a waste. Liverpool are suddenly breaking at lightning pace, Mané bearing down on the Napoli backline with Salah in space to his left. If he gets his square ball right, the Egyptian is in on Meret. He doesn't get his square ball right.
Napoli's turn to attack. First, Van Dijk's positioning has to be spot on once more as Callejón pulls the ball back into the box. Then, Insigne has space to attempt a curling shot into Adrián's top corner, but Alexander-Arnold blocks - and, despite the hosts' appeals for handball, it clearly hit his midriff.
Up the other end, Henderson swings a ball over to Mané at the back stick. He brings it down expertly but, as he tries to cut back inside and pull the trigger, Di Lorenzo is there to nick the ball away from the Senegalese and bring it clear.
What a save that is from Adrián. After a break in play as Lozano receives treatment - he looks like he'll be OK - Napoli work it to Mario Rui on the left, where his dinked cross finds Mertens at the back post. The Belgian prods a volley goalwards, but Liverpool's keeper produces a flying point-blank save to deny the hosts!
No changes for either side at the break, by the way.
Firmino tries to feed a ball to Mané at the back post. Di Lorenzo's clearance is dreadful - it's hit straight back at Firmino - but the Brazilian is clearly so surprised to get it straight back that it bounces off him, and the chance is lost.
Peeeeeeep! Back underway in Italy.
No goals in the first half Naples... but SIX in Austria, where RB Salzburg have gone in for the break 5-1 up on Genk. Erling Braut Haaland, son of Alf Inge, has helped himself to a hat-trick - which, by the way, is the first ever first-half treble in the Champions League.
Peep peep peeep! That's half time in Naples. Both sides might well have found the net in a thoroughly watchable first 45, but as yet it remains goalless.
First Mané's cute little ball finds Milner's run into space in the left channel. If he can play it across goal to Salah, the visitors are surely ahead... but Koulibaly is there to clear! Moments later, Milner is again in a crossing position, and flights the ball right onto Firmino's head on the penalty spot - but the Brazilian nods just wide!
Mertens delivers a corner from the right; it's cleared. He gets another chance to cross, but massively overhits it. Up go Liverpool to the other end... and not once, but twice aren't far away from taking the lead!
Lozano is inches away from getting on the end of a lovely low ball into the box from the left from Fabián. The Partonepei haven't scored in any of their last three games against English opposition, including last October's defeat at Anfield; they're certainly looking good value to break that mini-drought tonight, though.
Salah cuts inside and slaps a left-footed shot wide from 20 yards. A minute later, Firmino is muscled off the ball by Koulibaly as he tries to carve out a yard to shoot. While it's been an open, attacking game thus far, it must also be said that there's been some very good defending on show, too.
It's been an end-to-end first half hour or so; that said, Napoli have been having the better of it for the last couple of minutes.
Mertens almost has the chance to take a pot shot from just outside the area, but is robbed at the last moment by Mané. Shortly afterwards, Insigne very nearly slips Lozano into space to strike inside the area, but the Mexican is run off it as he tries to turn Matip.
Napoli are getting some quality ball whipped in from the right flank. Mertens produces a piece of instant control before pinging a delicious ball into the danger area, where Matip has to be alert to head clear. Moments later, Lozano skips past Matip and into the area, but the Cameroonian is bailed out by Trent Alexander-Arnold. It's such an open game, this.
In tonight's other Group E clash, incidentally, Red Bull Salzburg lead Genk 1-0 courtesy of a first-minute strike by Erling Braut Haaland.
Now Mané lays it off to Milner to shoot from the edge of the penalty box... but his shot is sliced high, wide and handsome.
...and there, indeed, is a Liverpool shot on goal. It's a really decent chance, too. The Reds get Mané bustling into the Napoli area on the left, where the Senegalese has acres of space to ping a near-post shot at Meret, who blocks!
It's fair to say that Liverpool won't have to go all that much to improve on their display here this time last year.
Moments later, Van Dijk's positioning is impeccable once more as Napoli look to slip Callejón in behind him in the right channel. "It's been a very watchable game so far," says Spanish TV pundit Julio 'Maldini' Maldonado. Indeed it has.
Napoli win a second corner, and Manolas should really do better with a free header. The hosts recycle, but when Fabián cuts it back dangerously across the goalmouth, Van Dijk is in position to clear.
Up go Liverpool to the other end, where Milner and Robertson combine to get the latter into a position to cut it back towards Firmino on the penalty spot... but a blue shirt is there before the Brazilian can pull the trigger. It's been a lively start in Naples.
Allan dinks a lovely little ball into Lorenzo Insigne's run in behind the Liverpool defence, but Joel Matip is alive to the danger and nips in ahead of the Italy international.
The hosts have the ball in the net... but Hirving Lozano is offside. Fabián Ruiz twice draws smart stops from his countryman in the Liverpool goal, Adrián, and when Lozano heads in the rebound from the second attempt the flag is quickly up.
Now it's Napoli's turn to win a corner, Dries Mertens whipping one into the middle from the right, and Virgil van Dijk taking no chances with his clearance. Liverpool deal with said corner with the minimum of fuss, though, and get it clear to Salah to break - but his pass towards Sadio Mané is cut out.
Right away, Liverpool give Napoli a taste of their pace going forward, as Jordan Henderson releases Mohamed Salah down the right. The Egyptian almosts scuttles in behind the home defence and into a shooting position, but Kalidou Koulibaly is finally there to get it out for a corner. Which comes to nought.
...and after a brief delay while the officials sort out what looked like an issue with their mikes, we're underway in Naples!
Tonight's referee is Germany's Felix Brych, by the way.
Out come the teams in the San Paolo; it's time for that anthem!
Liverpool the best in Europe, says Ancelotti
"It'll be a hard-fought match as we'll be facing the best team in Europe," Ancelotti told his press conference yesterday as he looked ahead to tonight's Champions League opener in Naples. "We hope to get the same result as last season."
Klopp, however, played down suggestions that the Reds are the continent's top dogs, despite winning the competition last season. "There are a lot of good teams out there and you have to prove that constantly," he told reporters. "We cannot be the best team in Europe because Manchester City are the best team in the world - that's the same planet, I heard.
"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."
Borussia Dortmund vs Barcelona live on AS English
Incidentally, we've also got live coverage of the mouth-watering clash between Borussia Dortmund and Barcelona in Germany - you can join Robbie for all the action in that one here.
Firmino returns to Liverpool XI
Jürgen Klopp also makes three changes to the Liverpool team that beat Newcastle to maintain their 100% start to the Premier League campaign: in midfield, Jordan Henderson and James Milner are restored to the XI in place of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gio Wijnaldum; meanwhile, Roberto Firmino returns up front after starting the 3-1 victory over the Magpies on the bench.
Three changes for Napoli
Napoli boss Carlo Ancelotti makes a trio of changes to the side that beat Sampdoria 2-0 in Serie A at the weekend - courtesy of a double by Belgian Dries Mertens - as Konstantinos Manolas, Allan and Lorenzo Insigne come in for Nikola Maksmovic, Eljif Elmas and Piotr Zielinski.
Liverpool team news:
Starting line-up: Adrián, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Henderson, Fabinho, Milner, Salah, Firmino, Mané
Substitutes: Kelleher, Wijnaldum, Lovren, Gomez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lallana, Shaqiri
Napoli team news:
Starting line-up: Meret, Di Lorenzo, Manolas, Koulibaly, Rui, Callejón, Allan, Fabián, Insigne, Mertens, Lozano
Substitutes: Opsina, Maksimovic, Ghoulam, Elmas, Zielinski, Llorente, Milik
Napoli vs Liverpool: preamble
Three months and 16 days after beating Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid to lift the European title, Liverpool begin the defence of their Champions League crown against familiar foes this evening as they visit Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo (21:00 CEST).
Before going on to claim their sixth European crown, Jürgen Klopp's men came up against Napoli at this stage of last year's competition - and the 1-0 defeat they suffered in Naples last October will leave them in no doubt as to the challenge facing them as they look to continue their record of six wins from six thus far this season.
Napoli could so easily have dumped the eventual winners out last term, indeed, had Alisson not produced a crucial, last-gasp save from Arkadiusz Milik to ensure Liverpool beat the Partenopei in the return at Anfield and, in the process, edged the Italians out for a last-16 berth - by virtue of goals scored.
Having trailed group winners Paris Saint-Germain in 2018/19, though, the expectation is that both will progress from a section also featuring Austrians RB Salzburg and Belgium's Genk.
The team news is in in southern Italy - stand by...