Liverpool started the group stage of the Champions League dramatically on Wednesday evening. The team of Virgil van Dijk, Ajax’s group mate, went down at Napoli after a staggeringly weak first half: 4-1.
At halftime it was already 3-0 in Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. Piotr Zielinski opened the score in the fifth minute, after which André-Frank Zambo Anguissa and Giovanni Simeone increased the margin to three. It could have been worse at halftime, because Victor Osimhen missed a penalty kick caused by Van Dijk.
It was the first time since 22 October 2014 that Liverpool conceded three goals in the first half of a Champions League match. The Premier League club faced a 3-0 deficit against Real Madrid eight years ago. That was the final score then.
Against Napoli, the deficit initially became slightly larger, because immediately after the break Zielinski signed for his second goal of the evening. Luis Díaz did something back for Liverpool shortly afterwards, but a comeback was out of the question. Orange captain Van Dijk participated the entire match with Liverpool.
Despite the large defeat, Liverpool is not last in group A. Ajax won 4-0 against Rangers FC from trainer Giovanni van Bronckhorst earlier on Wednesday evening. Next week the team from Amsterdam will visit Liverpool and Napoli will play against Rangers in Glasgow.
Standings in group A
- Ajax 1-3 (+4)
- Naples 1-3 (+3)
- Liverpool 1-0 (-3)
- Rangers FC 1-0 (-4)
Klopp further under pressure due to new downer
Liverpool have won just two of their first six games in the Premier League and continued that dramatic form in Naples. ‘The Reds’ were completely outclassed by the Italians, who took the lead after five minutes. Zielinski converted a penalty after James Milner’s handball.
Ten minutes later, referee Carlos del Cerro Grande again pointed to the dot, thanks to the VAR. He saw that Van Dijk committed a foul on Osimhen. The striker went behind the ball himself, but his attempt was turned by goalkeeper Alisson. In the rebound, Giovanni Di Lorenzo shot wildly over.
Napoli’s dominance continued in the first half and in the 31st minute the 2-0 was a fact. Zambo Anguissa escaped the attention of three Liverpool players and hit the target. Simeone also scored the third goal just before half time after another half-hearted defense at Liverpool.
The haunted manager Jürgen Klopp intervened at halftime by replacing the dramatic Joe Gomez, but it didn’t help much. The second half was only two minutes old when Zielinski made it 4-0 from close range. Liverpool immediately did something in return via Díaz, who beat goalkeeper Alex Meret with a long shot. Napoli then held out relatively easily in front of their own audience.