Liverpool fell to a resounding defeat in their opening Champions League group game as a Victor Osimhen inspired Napoli ran out 4-1 winners over Jurgen Klopp’s sorry outfit in Naples.
It was the hosts that flew out of the traps, with Osimhen hitting the outside of the post in the opening minute before a James Milner handball handed Napoli a penalty. Piotr Zielinski duly converted, ramping the atmosphere up even further, and handing Liverpool the worst possible start.
The night very nearly got worse for Jurgen Klopp’s side too, with Virgil van Dijk conceding a second penalty after bringing down the lively Osimhen as he raced into the penalty area. Fortunately for the Reds, the striker’s tame penalty was comfortably saved by Alisson to keep the deficit at just one after 20 minutes.
But that luck did not last. Joe Gomez was bailed out of one mistake by a goalline clearance from Van Dijk, but his second proved costly, with the Englishman caught on the ball on the edge of his own box, before some neat interplay allowed Zambo Anguissa to slip the ball under Alisson to double the hosts’ lead, one which they wholeheartedly deserved.
And, despite an injury to Osimhen blotting the copybook, another was forthcoming before the interval, with the electric Khvicha Kvaratskhelia outmuscling Gomez to pull the ball across to Diego Simeone, on as a first half substitute for the injured Nigerian who tapped home with his first touch of the game.
Klopp withdrew the dreadful Gomez at half time, but that did not stem the flow, with Napoli adding a fourth as Zielinski tapped home after Alisson saved the initial shot from the Polish midfielder.
Liverpool, seemingly dead and buried, were handed a flicker of hope when Luis Diaz curled home with what is fast becoming a trademark finish, and the Colombian seemed on a one-man mission to turn the score around, seeing a flying header tipped over minutes later.
Substitutions from both sides handed Liverpool more control of the game without really threatening, though Klopp will have been enthused by a debut for Arthur Melo and Thiago’s return from injury.
But it was in truth a game settled in a whirlwind first half hour, and it has continued Liverpool’s poor start to the season, with Klopp’s side looking well off their imperious best from last season.
GK: Alexander Meret - 7
Saved well from Diaz in the second half and was calm on the ball. Didn’t put a foot wrong.
RB: Giovanni Di Lorenzo - 6
Struggled at times to deal with Luis Diaz but was for the most part solid.
CB: Kim Min-Jae - 8
Has slotted in seamlessly as Koulibaly’s replacement, and enjoyed a strong performance at the heart of the Liverpool defence.
CB: Amir Rrahmani - 7
Quietly competent alongside his partner, he helped keep the Liverpool attack virtually anonymous.
LB: Mathías Olivera - 7
Kept Salah silent, though how much that was down to him as opposed to Salah’s woeful form is unclear.
CM: Franck Zambo Anguissa - 9
Looked a man transformed from his days at Fulham and dominated the midfield for the Italian side. Grabbed the second goal and was instrumental in creating the third.
CM: Stanislav Lobotka - 8
An impressive outing at the base of the Napoli midfield, the Slovakian dictated his side’s possession and broke up the occasional Liverpool attacks well.
CM: Piotr Zielinski - 8
Grabbed two of his side’s four goals and helped marshal the midfield well, but was overshadowed by his fellow midfielders.
RW: Matteo Politano - 7
The quietest of Napoli’s frontline, it was his shot that won the initial penalty after two minutes, and he pressed well for his side before being replaced.
ST: Victor Osimhen - 9
Was a thorn in the Liverpool side throughout the first half. His missed penalty meant little in the wider context of the game, and he will be hoping his injury is not too serious.
LW: Khvicha Kvaratskhelia - 8
An exciting first outing in Europe for the young star, who had a hand in two of the goals in the first half. Ran the right side of Liverpool’s defence ragged.
Diego Simeone - 7
Scored with his first touch and kept the Liverpool defence honest in the absence of Osimhen.
Hirving Lozano - 5
A threat on the break with his pace, but the Mexican was wasteful when he had the ball. Not entirely his fault Napoli sitting back.
Alessio Cervi - 5
Like Lozano, could have done better with the ball, but was often left isolated against the Liverpool defenders.
Mario Rui - 6
Had no trouble coming on for the final 15 minutes at left-back.
Eljif Elmas - 6
Not at the same level as Zielinski, who he replaced, but ran hard for his side.
GK: Alisson - 6
Could do nothing for any of the goals, and his penalty save helped keep the scoreline down.
RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold - 4
Watched as goals 2 and 3 for Napoli went in. Simply has to do more to help his side defensively.
CB: Virgil Van Dijk - 4
Conceded a penalty that was saved, and redeemed himself with a goalline clearance, but was still so far from his best.
CB: Joe Gomez - 3
Made three mistakes yards from his own goal, two of which were punished, and looked well out of his depth. Lucky to last until half-time.
LB: Andy Robertson - 5
The best of a bad bunch at the back, the Scot could only watch on as goals flew in down the opposite flank.
DM: Fabinho - 5
Struggled to break up Napoli attacks and left his defence woefully exposed. Looked well off the pace.
CM: James Milner - 4
His early handball set the tone for the horror first half, and looked well off the pace at the very top level.
CM: Harvey Elliot - 5
Can never be accused of a lack of effort, but was found wanting in the centre of the park in the first 45 minutes like many of his teammates.
LW: Luis Diaz - 7
The brightest spark in Klopp’s side, Diaz took his goal well and consistently looked to make things happen for his teammates.
ST: Roberto Firmino - 4
Toothless, like the rest of the Liverpool side, before he was taken off.
RW: Mo Salah - 4
Another night that will have people questioning the Egyptian as his poor start to the season continues. Had no impact on the game.
Joel Matip - 5
A significant improvement on Gomez when he came on at the interval. His experience and calmness helped stem the flow.
Diogo Jota - 5
Had very little change out of the Napoli defence.
Thiago - 7
His control of the Liverpool midfield was evident when he came on, and the Reds looked far more stable.
Darwin Nunez - 5
Ran the channels well but lacked any real quality in the final third.
Arthur Melo - 6
Not the circumstances in which he would like to make his Liverpool debut, but he offered a solid option in midfield.