Still a sweat for Liverpool

NAPOLI A BIG THORN IN THE REDS’ SIDE AGAIN

The Citizen (KZN) - - Internatio­nal - Liverpool

Liverpool are used to mak­ing life dif­fi­cult for them­selves, ad­mit­ted Juer­gen Klopp as a 1-1 draw with Napoli leaves the Euro­pean cham­pi­ons with work to do to reach the Cham­pi­ons League last 16.

Klopp’s men must avoid de­feat away to Salzburg on De­cem­ber 10 to se­cure their pas­sage into the knock­out stages.

Dries Mertens threat­ened to in­flict Liverpool’s first home de­feat in the Cham­pi­ons or Premier League since April 2017 with a sweetly struck opener mid­way through the first half.

De­jan Lovren’s header pro­tected that proud un­beaten run, but af­ter a host of late win­ners in the Premier League this sea­son there was no such joy for the hosts this time round.

“Our way was al­ways the hard one,” said Klopp.

“We have to go to Salzburg. If we had done it (qual­i­fied) tonight we would’ve tried to win there and we will do the same now.”

Napoli re­main a point behind Liverpool, but are well-placed to reach the knock­out stages as they host win­less Genk in two weeks’ time.

“It’s not easy to get a draw here. We suf­fered un­der pres­sure and be­gan to de­fend too deep, but there’s no other way to emerge alive from An­field,” said Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti.

The Ital­ians had trav­elled to Mersey­side in dis­ar­ray with Ancelotti seem­ingly on the brink of be­ing sacked af­ter a slump in Serie A.

Pres­i­dent Aure­lio De Lau­ren­tiis

has also threat­ened to sell the en­tire squad and take le­gal ac­tion against the play­ers af­ter they re­fused his or­ders to be con­fined to a week-long training camp ear­lier this month.

How­ever, the Ital­ians are the only side to have beaten the Euro­pean cham­pi­ons this sea­son and proved a thorn in Liverpool’s side again.

“This is a healthy club within the locker room and with the de­sire of ev­ery­one to emerge from this dif­fi­cult mo­ment,” added Ancelotti.

“I spoke to the pres­i­dent, he was very happy with ev­ery­one and con­grat­u­lated us all on the per­for­mance.”

Liverpool were un­set­tled by the early loss of Fabinho to an an­kle in­jury and Klopp is wor­ried that the Brazil­ian could be side­lined for some time.

“The big­gest thing tonight is the Fabinho in­jury,” added Klopp. “That’s mas­sive, it’s still early and we hope it is not too se­ri­ous but it is pretty painful.”

The home side were still re­group­ing when the vis­i­tors opened the scor­ing on 21 min­utes.

Mertens leaned into Vir­gil van Dijk as the Dutch­man headed clear and was left on the ground hold­ing his side.

Napoli played on and when the ball was played for­ward again Mertens was un­marked to run through be­fore beat­ing Alis­son Becker from a nar­row an­gle.

Af­ter a VAR re­view for a po­ten­tial foul and off­side, the goal was al­lowed to stand – AFP

Pic­ture: Getty Images

JUER­GEN KLOPP

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