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Men's Football Mersey lads outclassed in San Paolo’s cauldron

Napoli 1-0 Liverpool
by James Nalton
at Stadio San Paolo

A GOAL from local boy Lorenzo Insigne gave Napoli a late win against Liverpool as this intriguing Champions League group took another early twist.

Jurgen Klopp’s side have become known for their high-octane attacking play, but in the raucous cauldron that is Napoli’s Stadio San Paolo they failed to register a single shot on target.

For much of the game they also failed to do something as simple as control the ball and therefore couldn’t control the game.

Their sloppiness in attack put pressure on a defence which eventually gave way despite impressive performances from centre back Joe Gomez and goalkeeper Alisson.

Substitute Dries Mertens issued a warning of what was to come when he crashed one against the bar from close range. Replays showed that Alisson had diverted the shot with an outstanding save, but there was nothing the Brazilian could do about the winner as Insigne turned in Jose Callejon’s cross.

“Our group was difficult, but I said it was going to be difficult for all the teams,” said Napoli boss Carlo Ancelotti.

“We interpreted the game really well. We studied Liverpool and changed slightly the way we play. 

“With an extra central defender we were able to build from the back with Marek Hamsik and Allan and overall it’s been a good approach with perfect balance.”

Klopp was at a loss to what had happened, especially as he believed the errors were unforced, but he said all will become clear when analysing a recording of the game.

He will hope that the broken parts can be fixed before another important fixture, this time in the league, against Manchester City on Sunday.

“It’s a tough game absolutely,” confirmed Klopp, who is hoping home advantage will pay off as it did for Ancelotti’s side here.

“Napoli used the atmosphere and we couldn't calm it down with our performance, but on Sunday that will be 100 per cent different.”

It’s the final game of a tough run of fixtures for Liverpool, after which they will be disappointed to have been knocked out of the League Cup by Chelsea and not to have come back with at least a point from Naples.

“See you in Liverpool,” said Klopp as he walked out of his post-match press conference, fully aware that there is plenty for all sides to play for as they look to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages.

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