SSC Napoli gave Liverpool a torrid time in their UEFA Champions League (UCL) opener, dismantling the Reds in a 4-1 win. Gli Azzurri have now lost just three of their 22 UCL home games.
A deafening crowd at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona didn’t need amping up, but Napoli’s electric start did just that. Victor Osimhen raced in behind the Liverpool defence to round an onrushing Alisson, but couldn’t direct the ball into an empty net from a tight angle. However, with just five minutes played, Gli Azzurri had a penalty when Matteo Politano’s shot was handled by James Milner, allowing Piotr Zieliński to send Alisson the wrong way from the spot. The hosts then had a second spot-kick just 12 minutes later, after Virgil van Dijk was deemed to have stamped on Osimhen’s foot. This time, the Nigerian stepped up, but Alisson guessed the right way before Giovanni Di Lorenzo blazed over on the rebound.
Luciano Spalletti’s side were unrelenting, forcing Joe Gomez into a first of several errors as Osimhen stole the ball and squared to Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, only for a sprawling Van Dijk to clear the Georgian’s effort off the line. André-Frank Zambo Anguissa’s movement had been excellent, and he was duly rewarded after a neat one-two allowed him to sweep home Napoli’s second. Jürgen Klopp would have hoped the tides were turning when Osimhen departed the field injured, but his replacement Giovanni Simeone soon grabbed his first UCL goal to cap off a breathless first half.
Incredibly, within five minutes of the restart, two more goals were scored. First, Liverpool were carved open as Zieliński dinked over Alisson at the second attempt for a scarcely-believable Napoli fourth. Yet, just two minutes later, Luis Díaz had restored some pride with a clinical curler beyond Alex Meret. Having been well off the pace, the visitors came close to a second, but Meret’s quick reflexes denied Díaz’s flying header.
A host of substitutions combined with unsustainable tempo finally took its toll, producing the game’s longest period without goals as the match eased to its now-obvious conclusion. The result leaves Liverpool three points off the pace in Group A, but the manner of the defeat may be even more concerning. Meanwhile, Napoli have now registered a sixth win in seven home UCL encounters against English sides and continue an impressive unbeaten start to the season as a result.