Napoli's Piotr Zielinski netted a brace as the Italian side continued to make their home pitch a house of horrors for Liverpool thanks to a 4-1 thrashing of the Reds in the Champions League opener for both teams.
Napoli got off to a fast start as Piotr Zielinski buried a 5th-minute penalty after a handball in the box by James Milner, Milner's tough start continued as he picked up a yellow card in the 9th minute. Andy Robertson earned a corner in the 14th minute. Alex Meret punched the cross away, however. Liverpool conceded another penalty in the 18th minute, but Allison Becker made a huge save to keep the Liverpool deficit at 1-0.
After the saves, Liverpool earned a trio of corners but they could not convert. Those missed chances came back to haunt the Reds. Joe Gomez gave away the ball in the back and André-Frank Zambo Anguissa made him pay with a quick goal off the turnover. Substitute Giovanni Simeone extended Liverpool's misery with a goal just moments before the halftime whistle in the 44th minute to increase the Napoli lead to 3-0 at the break.
Liverpool's situation did not improve in the second half as Zielinski scored his second goal of the match, sending home a rebound in the 47th minute to make the tally 4-0. Luis Diaz pulled a goal back for Liverpool with a nice strike in the 49th minute that found the back of the net to cut the deficit to 4-1.
Diaz continued his bright play later in the half. In the 61st minute, he unleashed a flying header that forced Meret to make a strong save. As expected, Arthur Melo and Thiago Alcantara came on as late substitutes, but they could do little to impact the match in its latter stages. When the final whistle blew, Liverpool saw their Champions League hopes to take a major blow with the 4-1 loss.
Man of the Match and What's Next
Anytime a player scores a brace in a Champions League match, it's hard not to give them recognition as Man of the Match. Such is the case for Napoli's Piotr Zielinski. His early penalty set the tone and let Liverpool players and fans know that it was going to be a long 90 minutes. His rebound goal in the 47th minute essentially put the game away. Liverpool will have to recover quickly as they step back into EPL play, hosting Wolverhampton Saturday, September 10th at 15:00 BST.
LFC Globe Verdict
There s no way to put a positive spin on this one. Liverpool just suffered one of its worst defeats ever in European competition outside the EPL. The Reds have had issues all season and they were on full display again in the match versus Napoli. Diaz's bright play in the second half is of little consolation. Jürgen Klopp is going to have to find a solution and find it quickly because if the Reds' play does not improve soon, they can forget winning the Champions League and the EPL.