Liverpool defeated Napoli 1-0 on Tuesday night in the Champions League to dramatically book their place in the knockout round. Needing a 1-0 win or a victory by two clear goals, Liverpool came up big on the night.
Mohamed Salah’s 34th-minute goal held up as goalkeeper Alisson Becker made an extraordinary save in second-half stoppage-time to preserve the lead.
Liverpool now go into the knockout stage finishing just behind Paris Saint-Germain in Group C. Here is what we learned from Liverpool’s 1-0 Champions League win over Napoli.
Monchi has supplied Liverpool with great talent
In each of the last two summer transfer windows, Liverpool have bought Roma’s best players. The Italian club’s sporting director Monchi sold Liverpool Salah in 2017 and followed it up with the sale of Alisson in 2018. The duo have been immense since they both joined the Reds.
Salah has scored 57 goals in 75 Liverpool games. Meanwhile, Alisson has tallied 12 clean sheets in 1,980 minutes as a Red. The Brazilian has allowed just 13 goals in all competitions.
Perhaps his biggest save, and there have been several this term, came in the second-half stoppage-time when Arkadiusz Milik’s point-blank shot was saved as Napoli looked destined to score. Alisson was bought for big moments like that and he excelled.
VAR Would Have Changed the Game
Despite the commentary on BT Sport by Steve McManaman, Virgil van Dijk delivered an ankle-breaking tackle to Dries Mertens in the first half. It was an ugly, mistimed tackle. Van Dijk escaped with a yellow card, but it could have been much worse. In fact, Van Dijk should have been sent off.
Had VAR been used in the group stage, there is a good chance referee Damir Skomina would have shown red to Van Dijk having looked at the replay. Fortunately, Liverpool escaped and found the goal they needed to progress.
Henderson and Milner Lockdown the Midfield
Jordan Henderson continues to get better at Liverpool. Once a player the club tried to move in a swap deal with Clint Dempsey at Tottenham, Henderson has become indispensable. Alongside James Milner on Tuesday night, the dynamic duo shut down Napoli’s attack. Napoli managed just eight shots with three on target thanks to the midfield pair hustling, hurrying, and breaking up play.
Henderson and Milner are key leaders in the locker room and on the pitch. They need to continue their great form for Liverpool to remain battling for trophies in the Premier League and Champions League.
Milner is out of contract in the summer and Liverpool need to tie him down with a new deal now.
Liverpool must finish chances
There is plenty to work on for Jurgen Klopp and the most apparent is Liverpool’s poor finishing. It seemed nearly every attack fizzled out thanks to a missed shot by Sadio Mane or Salah.
Mane was the worst of the lot with his shooting. Several times Mane had the chance to extend Liverpool’s lead only to miss a near open goal. Mane has scored seven times this season, but he has struggled in front of net for the most part. Perhaps it is due to the injuries he has had or fatigue from the World Cup. Regardless, Liverpool must be more ruthless against top teams.
Liverpool host Manchester United on Sunday. Klopp will need his big players to finish chances if the Reds want to win and stay atop the Premier league table.