Napoli 2-0 Liverpool: 5 Hits and Flops
- Five hits and flops, as Napoli inflicted European champions Liverpool's first defeat of the season with a 2-0 win on UCL 19/20 matchday 1.
Carlo Ancelotti's Napoli inflicted European champions Liverpool's first defeat of the campaign across all competitions, as Dries Mertens' penalty and a stoppage-time strike by substitute Fernando Llorente saw them snatch a 2-0 win to kick off Group E in this year's UEFA Champions League.
During an entertaining matchday one clash between the defending champions and a familiar foe from last season, there was little to separate the pair.
Napoli's club-record signing Hirving Lozano thought he broke the deadlock seven minutes in, but was correctly ruled offside after Adrian's double save thwarted Fabian Ruiz moments earlier. Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino both came close before half-time, while Adrian made an excellent acrobatic stop to deny Mario Rui's effort from swerving into the top corner.
Alex Meret did well to tip a stinging Mohamed Salah effort around the post before Andrew Robertson conceded a needless penalty with nine minutes to play. He lunged in and didn't win the ball when challenging Jose Callejon, who went down and referee Felix Brych had no choice.
Mertens made no mistake from twelve yards, despite Adrian's best efforts, before a defensive mistake by Virgil van Dijk gifted substitute Llorente a stoppage-time finish to secure all three points during a tense finale. Here's a look at five hits and flops from a memorable evening of football in Naples:
#5 Flop: Andrew Robertson
Perhaps this shouldn't be too surprising, given Robertson was a fitness doubt (knock) for this fixture to begin with. Appearing a step slow at times from the early exchanges and didn't regularly come out victorious during his battles against Callejon and Mertens down the flank.
In addition, he failed to attack with the same relentless energy you often see in the Premier League from him and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Napoli had done their homework and effectively nullified Liverpool's width, though his defensive work was far from immaculate (four fouls committed, no blocks/interceptions/tackles).
When he did fly forward, there was seemingly no understanding between himself, Fabinho and Firmino in transition. As time wore on into the latter stages, his game was compounded after committing a careless, tired challenge in the box under pressure. Although you could argue the contact was minimal, he gave Callejon an opportunity to go down and didn't actually win the ball so really could have no complaints. His reaction spoke volumes.
He created an assist and had a decent display last time out against Newcastle, though his start to the campaign has been unspectacular. The 25-year-old will certainly be eager to atone for his forgettable display here, as they travel to west London with Chelsea up next on Sunday.