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Napoli 2-0 Liverpool: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Reds Start Champions League Defence With Defeat

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Liverpool got their Champions League defence off to a rocky start as Napoli edged a tight encounter 2-0 at Stadio San Paolo thanks to Dries Mertens’ penalty and Fernando Llorente’s instinctive finish.

The two sides, who shared two entertaining encounters in the competition last season, both had chances as Alex Meret and Adrian made important stops, with the game goalless until Andy Robertson felled Jose Callejon.

Belgium forward Mertens just about slapped the ball past Adrian, who got his fingertips to the strike but couldn’t stop it, before Llorente capitalised on a misplaced Virgil van Dijk pass to score, consigning the Reds to their second defeat of the season and their first in 90 minutes.

Here’s 90min’s breakdown of the game.


NAPOLI

Key Talking Point

Cast your eyes back to last season’s Champions League. It’s Liverpool vs Napoli at Anfield on the final matchday of the group stage. Arkadiusz Milik has the chance to equalise late on following Mohamed Salah’s 34th minute strike, thus taking Napoli through to the knockout stages.

Alas, the rest is history. Napoli dropped into the Europa League and were eventually dumped out by Arsenal, while Liverpool would go on to win Europe’s elite club competition.

FBL-EUR-C1-NAPOLI-LIVERPOOL

Needless to say, a lot more is expected from Napoli this time around. Yes, they’ve again been placed in the same group as Liverpool, but neither Salzburg or Genk are exactly Paris Saint-Germain, the club which joined the Reds and I Partenopei in Group C last season, so the Italian side are expected to reach the knockout rounds.

They went toe to toe with the European champions and got their chance to open the scoring when Callejon was brought down.

Mertens, who is closing in on second place Diego Maradona in the club’s goalscoring ranks, made no mistake from the spot before substitute Llorente latched on to a sloppy Van Dijk pass to fire in and get Napoli’s Champions League campaign off the best possible start.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Meret (8); Lorenzo (7), Manolas (6), Koulibaly (7), Rui (7); Callejon (7), Allan (7), Ruiz (6), Insigne (5); Mertens (7), Lozano (5).

Substitutes: Zielinski (6), Llorente (7), Elmas (5).


STAR PLAYER – It’s fair to say that when you play Liverpool, you’ll need your goalkeeper to make a few good saves.

Meret made a number of important saves, even bailing out Kostas Manolas when the Greek defender gave the ball to Salah in a dangerous position.

He set the platform for Napoli to snatch the win late on, and his name also sounds like the word ‘merit’, so we’ll give him the honour here.

LIVERPOOL

Key Talking Point

All eyes were on Liverpool on Tuesday night as the holders began their campaign in Europe.

The Reds secured their sixth European crown in June when they eased past Tottenham 2-0 in Madrid, and most were expecting Jurgen Klopp’s side to do the same to a good Napoli side.

Sadio Mane

However, they were made to sweat early on, Adrian pulling off two sharp saves in quick succession as the hosts made a strong start. The former West Ham stopper also pulled out a fabulous stop to deny Dries Mertens, springing to his left to connect with a sprawling hand to tip the ball over the bar.

They were, expectedly, sharp on the counter, but lacked a clinical edge to make the most of their opportunities – Sadio Mane was one such guilty party, shooting straight at Meret when Trent Alexander-Arnold was ready to receive a pass in a more advantageous position.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Adrian (8); Alexander-Arnold (6), Matip (6), Van Dijk (5) , Robertson (5); Henderson (7), Fabinho (7), Milner (6); ​Salah (5), Firmino (6), ​Mane (7).

Substitutes: Wijnaldum (5), Shaqiri (5)


STAR PLAYER – Even though Napoli only stole the lead late on, Liverpool would have fallen behind earlier had Adrien not pulled off a stunning save.

Fabinho also put in a reliably assured performance, but Adrian is starting to convince fans that he can fill in capably in Alisson’s absence.

Looking Ahead

​Liverpool will face a stern test of their Premier League title credentials when they face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. They’re next in action in the Champions League in early October, when they play Salzburg, who smashed Genk 6-2.

​Napoli have a trip to newly promoted Lecce on Sunday, with their next European tie being a trip to Belgium to face Genk.

90min.in

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FOOTBALL

Sheffield United vs Arsenal team news: Line-up latest and more ahead of Premier League clash

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A look ahead to the Premier League fixture at Bramall Lane

Image result for arsenaL

Arsenal will be looking for just their second away win of the season when they travel to face Sheffield United on Monday night.

Despite sitting third in the table, Arsenal have looked sluggish away from home and have only won at Newcastle on the road, a win which came on the opening weekend of the season.

A defeat to Liverpool and frustrating draws against Watford and Manchester United complete Arsenal’s away league form so far in the campaign, and they now face a Sheffield United side looking for their first win in a month.

Chris Wilder’s side were extremely unfortunate to emerge with nothing from their home game against Liverpool because of Dean Henderson’s howler, before they drew at bottom side Watford last time out.

But while they have had mixed fortunes at home this season, they have also been impressive in patches and have taken points off the likes of Chelsea already this season.

Team news

Arsenal could welcome back as many as four players to Premier League action for the visit to Sheffield United.

Striker Alexandre Lacazette was back in full training this weekend and while it is unlikely he will be risked from the start, he could be among the substitues.

Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney have all accrued minutes in the Carabao Cup and Europa League this season, but the latter is the most advanced in his recovery and could come in for Sead Kolasinac.

Chris Wilder meanwhile has said he will give injured trio John Fleck, Oli McBurnie and David McGoldrick every opportunity to prove their fitness ahead of the game.

McGoldrick missed Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2020 qualifiers with the groin injury, while fellow striker McBurnie pulled out of the Scotland squad with a knee problem.

Predicted line-up

Sheffield United: Henderson, Basham, Egan, O’Connell, Baldock, Lundstram, Norwood, Osborn, Stevens, Robinson, Mousset

Arsenal: Leno, Chambers, Holding, Luiz, Tierney, Torreira, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Pepe, Aubameyang, Saka

Aubameyang has been in fine goalscoring form for Arsenal (EPA)

When is it?

Kick-off is at 8pm BST on Monday 21st October. 

How can I watch it?

The match will be broadcast on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event from 7pm.

You can also live stream the match via the Sky Go app on a range of devices, including laptops, smartphones and tablets.

David McGoldrick could miss out through injury (Getty Images)

Odds

Sheffield United: 11/4

Arsenal: 10/11

Draw: 13/5

(source: Paddy Power)

Prediction – Sheffield United 1-1 Arsenal

Arsenal’s last two Premier League away games have ended in score draws, and a similar fate could be in store for Unai Emery’s men in Sheffield.

While they have managed to fathom victory out of nowhere at the Emirates, Emery’s side have looked uninspiring for the majority of their games away from north London, except a brilliant first half not far from home at Watford.

Hope remains that Arsenal’s play will improve at both ends of the field once Hector Bellerin, Kieran Tierney and Rob Holding return, but regardless of the 11 players to take the field Sheffield United will fancy their chances against a side won just once on the road in four attempts this season.

The Blades came agonisingly close to claiming a point against Liverpool, and having also held Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this season, they could increase their points tally on Monday night as well.

Independent

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FOOTBALL

PENALTY FLAWS VAR is a ‘total embarrassment’ to the Premier League – it’s not working

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VAR has become a total embarrassment to the Premier League.

Everybody wanted VAR brought in to correct decisions which were “clear and obvious” errors — but it has just left us baffled and confused.

 Burnley striker Chris Wood sees a goal ruled out for a foul on Jonny Evans in Leicester's 2-1 comeback win
Burnley striker Chris Wood sees a goal ruled out for a foul on Jonny Evans in Leicester’s 2-1 comeback win
 Man City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne gets nothing from this apparent shove from Crystal Palace main man Wilf Zaha
Man City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne gets nothing from this apparent shove from Crystal Palace main man Wilf Zaha

Incredibly, there has still not been a Premier League penalty awarded by VAR and that is because referees are not reviewing their own decisions.

It is amazing that referees are not totally accountable for their final decisions, like they are in the Champions League and around the rest of the world.

As per protocol from football lawmakers Ifab, Premier League referees MUST start viewing the pitchside monitors.

Instead, officials at Stockley Park are deciding whether to overrule colleagues’ on-field decisions, which they are clearly reluctant to do.

MOCKERY

I am pretty sure the incidents at Tottenham and Crystal Palace would have been overturned if the referees had viewed the monitor.

Fans, players and managers would be much more likely to accept a decision once the on-field referee had reviewed their own decision.

Players and managers must be tearing their hair out. It is making a mockery of the Premier League.

For some reason, Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) chief Mike Riley has gone against the Ifab protocol — and it is not working.

This has to be the worst weekend yet, it was an awful set of matches for officials.

We must not blame the officials operating VAR, it comes from management level in terms of implementing VAR.

Riley has spoken about “raising the bar” — but he has set that bar too high.

VAR has been consistent regarding offside decisions.

But with subjective decisions, they have not overturned one.

Ultimately, at Premier League level, some of these decisions should not even need a VAR review.

TheSun

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FOOTBALL

Monkey Chants, Racist Abuse Make Players Abandon English FA Match

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An FA Cup qualifying match between Haringey Borough and Yeovil Town was abandoned on Saturday after allegations that players were racially abused and spat on.

The players of seventh-tier outfit Haringey walked off the field with about 25 minutes to go, shortly after Yeovil had scored a penalty.

The incident during the match in the fourth qualifying round came just five days after England players endured racist abuse during their Euro 2020 qualifier against Bulgaria in Sofia.

Haringey manager Tom Loizou said defender Coby Rowe suffered racial abuse while Cameroonian goalkeeper Douglas Pajetat was also spat at, prompting him to take his players off the pitch.

“Early into the second half, we got a corner and a couple of the players said to me there was monkey chants,” Loizou told Sky News.

“We got over that, we carried on playing. They got a penalty and my goalkeeper was spat at and had missiles thrown at him.

“The referee halted the game briefly, they scored the penalty, one of players went to pick the ball out of the back of the net and Coby Rowe was racially abused.”

Loizou said he had to take his players off.

“I looked at a couple of our players’ faces and I was distraught myself, just to see their faces. I gave it a couple of minutes and I went on the pitch and pulled my players off,” he said.

“There was no way that two or three of those players could have continued playing. What they heard was disgusting, they looked frightened.

“I can’t sit down and watch young players being abused by a minority.”

Rowe later posted on Twitter: “Can’t believe I’m tweeting this and it’s 2019 but today I was a victim of racism, in what was supposed to be a great day for @HaringeyBoroFC. Another game of football ruined by racists.”

Anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out praised the “swift and decisive action” taken by Loizou and his players.

The FA said it was looking into the incident “as a matter of urgency”.

In a statement, Yeovil said: “We are aware that there are allegations that racist comments were made in the crowd and this allegation will be a key part of any investigation.

“Irrespective of the outcome of any investigations, we would like to make it clear that the club will not accept racism or discrimination in any form.”

England players endured monkey chants and apparent Nazi salutes in Bulgaria. That match was stopped twice as England players made their feelings known to UEFA officials before the tie was eventually completed.

Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings, who made his international debut that night and was singled out by the Bulgarian crowd, applauded Haringey for “taking a stance” against racism.

“Sometimes it can get brushed off in lower leagues but everyone stands with you,” he tweeted. “Our country isn’t perfect either.”

SAHARAREPORTERS

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