Liverpool kicked off their Champions League campaign with a 4-1 defeat to Napoli on Wednesday night at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in Italy.
A slow start from the visitors saw Victor Osimhen almost give the Serie A squad the lead after rounding Alisson before hitting the post, but it was only minutes before they broke the deadlock thanks to a Piotr Zielinski penalty awarded after the handball by James Milner.
Napoli got a second goal after Virgil van Dijk was convicted of a foul on Osimhen, only for Alisson’s stop to ensure the deficit would stay at one goal. But that wasn’t long after the Reds trailed 2-0 when André-Frank Zambo-Anguissa linked Zielinski’s pass, before impressive solo work from Khvicha Kvaratskhelia on the left saw him cut to substitute Giovanni Simeone for a third for Naples for the whistle of peace.
Jurgen Klopp introduced Joel Matip at halftime but that did little to stop the storm as Napoli scored within 90 seconds of the restart. Despite Luis Diaz’s quick response with a fine finish from outside the box, Liverpool were unable to find their way back into the game.
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It’s hard to find positives in a performance that was so one-sided on the night, but Luis Diaz’s presentation is something that stood out.
The left winger scored another goal by interfering with his favorite right foot, and he was the only player who looked like he could make anything happen on the front line.
Liverpool started the game too slow and were unable to stop a ruthless Napoli side. The defense was naive throughout the game, while there seemed to be no structure between the midfield and the defensive line. A very poor display of second place in the 21/22 Champions League.
Manager rating (out of 10)
Jurgen Klopp, 5 — Fitness issues may have forced Klopp into the squad against Napoli, but his high-line perseverance is something that may need to be adjusted after being exposed.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes are not rated)
GK Alisson, 6 — The Liverpool goalkeeper couldn’t do much about any of the goals after making some strong stops. He was just too often let down by his defense that night.
DF Andy Robertson, 5 — It took some time for the starting Liverpool left-back to get going, but he was one of Liverpool’s better players in the second half.
DF Virgil van Dijk, 4 — The Dutch star needs to do much more to dominate the Liverpool defense as the most experienced player on the side. Jurgen Klopp’s team was in the back everywhere and that made the mountain too difficult to climb in the second half. Napoli denied a clearing of the line in the first half, but then conceded a penalty.
DF Joe Gomez, 4 — Nothing seemed to go right for Joe Gomez that night, who was touched a number of times, and at times when he made contact, the ball seemed to go back into a dangerous area. The positioning of the 25-year-old also left a lot to be desired. Replaced at halftime for Joel Matip.
DF Trent Alexander-Arnold, 4 — A well-chosen pass into Mohamed Salah’s feet on the half hour saw Egypt’s international level nearly score in the first half, but Alexander-Arnold was beaten too easily by Kvicha Kvaratskhelia in the run-up to Napoli’s third goal.
MF Fabinho, 5 — The Brazil international didn’t seem to push himself into the game as Napoli played through his press with relative ease. That factor was not helped by Liverpool’s generally poor midfield performance as a team.
MF James Milner, 5 — A handball in Milner’s penalty area saw Napoli award a penalty to give themselves an early lead. The veteran midfielder was careless in possession, with many of his long balls being easily cleared by the Serie A defence.
MF Harvey Elliott, 6 — Liverpool’s smartest player in midfield, while Elliott looked forward to getting the ball forward in positive areas. Elliott often made the right decision, despite being the youngest Reds player on the field.
FW Luis Diaz, 7 — The Colombian international was Liverpool’s brightest spark that night, even in a match that seemed far out of reach. His finish outside the box early in the second half was excellent, then came close with a header well saved by Meret.
FW Roberto Firmino, 5 — The Liverpool striker was unable to get into the game and was often ousted by defenders. An almost anonymous showing of the Brazilian international.
FW Mohamed Salah, 5 — Salah had Liverpool’s only real chance in the first half, but his effort was tame and easy for Alex Meret to save. Napoli generally kept the Egypt international calm, in a match in which he struggled to make an impact from the right wing.
Joel Matip (Gomez, 45″), 6 — Introduced at halftime for Joe Gomez, but could have done more for Napoli’s 4th goal. Brought the ball forward from the defense and managed to break through the lines with his pass.
Darwin Nunez (Firmino, 62″), 6 — Nunez tried to run behind to extend the game, but Liverpool didn’t find him enough in space. The former Benfica forward’s decision-making seemed positive and he did well to eliminate Diogo Jota late in the game who was unable to finish.
Thiago (Milner, 63″), 7 — A return from injury to Thiago has given him greater control over Liverpool’s midfield, a much needed factor after Napoli’s continued success. Reclaimed the ball several times.
Diogo Jota (Salah, 63″), 5 — Jota was in positive areas, but he was quickly displaced by defenders. Either way, essential minutes after returning from a pre-preparation injury will be useful in the future.
Arthur (Elliott, 77″) N/R — Introduced to Elliott in the 77th minute in a Liverpool debut against known opposition for the hired Juventus midfielder, and he appeared to be enjoying his minutes playing alongside Thiago.