This was Liverpool. Nail biting, mind boggling Liverpool.
A night where their European fate hung in the balance, Jurgen Klopp’s side flew to new heights as they soared to a 1-0 win and emerged into the knockout stages of the competition.
In truth, this should’ve been a far healthier scoreline than it was. Sadio Mané missed a host of opportunities while Roberto Firmino remained off his best, struggling to string things together with the formidable Mohamed Salah. However, it could also have been a night of heartbreak but for a stunning save from Alisson who prevented Napoli from scoring at the death to steal the celebrations. As the party mood began, there was much to be thankful for at Anfield on a night where Liverpool ensured their European survival as they hit new heights in the Premier League.
It took 34 minutes for Mohamed Salah to make his mark, shrugging off Mário Rui before shimmying around Koulibaly. The centre-back had been a colossal figure in the opening thirty minutes, displaying exactly why Klopp had gone in for him during the summer. However, the Egyptian would get the better of him, dazzling his way into the area before nutmegging Ospina, marking the eight time Salah has opened the scoring for the Reds this season.
Sadio Mané had countless opportunities to extend Liverpool’s lead as the away side piled on the pressure in the second-half. An equaliser would’ve put Napoli through, giving the Italian’s fuel to add to the fire. However Alisson rose to the task, preventing such an occurance with another stunning point blank save. Substitute Arkadiusz Milik appeared to be through on goal in stoppage time but for a the Brazilian No.1’s interception. As sensational as Salah’s goal was, it would’ve been nothing more than a consolation but for the intervention of Alisson, with the ‘keeper looking like a bigger bargain as the days go by. To that end, Virgil Van Dijk deserves immense credit for his intervention throughout the ninety minutes. The Dutchman suffered an early yellow card against Mertens but continued to battle hard at the heart of the defence, making timely interceptions to stop the Italians from making inroads.
This was a night of rising to the occasion, making huge strides in a season deemed sub-par by those who admired the frenetic play of last season. For all their brilliance in the league, Liverpool have failed to hit their usual heights. Here they rose, leaving everything on the field to ensure progression to the knockout stages.