Liverpool have taken all three points from Napoli in the Champions League with a 2-0 victory over the Italians at Anfield, however, despite destroying the side’s 21-game unbeaten run, it won’t be enough to top the group.
The Reds needed a 4-0 win in front of the Anfield faithful yesterday evening to knock their opponents off the top of Group A but will now have to settle for qualification in second place, something Jurgen Klopp won’t grumble at given the state of Liverpool’s season domestically.
Over the performance, Liverpool dominated possession (52%), had more shots on target (6 v 2), more big chances created and completed more accurate passes (406 v 366).
In a largely uneventful game, the two teams looked fairly balanced with barely troubled either goalkeeper until the 85th minute of the game when the inevitable Mohammed Salah finally broke the deadlock to make it 1-0.
This was quickly followed up by another chance tucked away by Darwin Nunez who got the final touch on Virgil van Dijk’s last-minute attempt on goal in the eighth minute of stoppage time to give the Merseysiders their 2-0 victory.
Despite the positive result for Klopp’s side, there was one player who had a performance he will be wanting to forget with Roberto Firmino struggling to positively influence in his position throughout the clash.
The Liverpool ace put in an awful lightweight display that was rather uncharacteristic of his season so far.
Indeed, the Brazilian has found the net on eight occasions this term, while laying on four assists for his teammates. However, that form seemed to vanish against the Naples outfit.
He remarkably lost 89% of his duels (8/9) and failed to register a single shot on or off target in an anonymous outing. What made matters worse was that he gave the ball away every 3.6 touches, as well as being unsuccessful in 100% of his dribble attempts. In committing four fouls, it proved that the forward struggled to remain disciplined throughout.
Darwin Nunez was left out of the clash until he replaced Curtis Jones on the left side of the front three in the 73rd minute, but if Klopp decides to resort back to his 4-3-3 formation again when they face Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League at the weekend, it may be worth considering resting Firmino and deploying the Uruguayan striker in the centre-forward role instead.
With that being said, although the 2-0 win against Napoli did not do anything to change Liverpool’s fate going into the Champions League draw, Klopp will be hoping that the performance can inspire his players to put on a similar resilient performance when they travel to north London on Sunday.