Football Features

Van Dijk human after all? Every player rated from Napoli 2-0 Liverpool

By Chris Smith

Napoli 2-0 Liverpool player ratings, Champions League, Van Dijk

Published: 22:15, 17 September 2019

Liverpool’s Champions League defence got off to the worst start as they went down 2-0 away to Napoli in their Group E opener.

The Reds had looked composed and in relative control for most of the game but a late swipe on Jose Callejon from Andy Robertson conceded a penalty, which Dries Mertens converted.

Ten minutes later, Napoli sealed the result with Robertson again involved, this time getting in a mix up with Virgil van Dijk and allowing Fernando Llorente to grab his first Napoli goal.

And so, here is how every player rated on Tuesday night.

Napoli

Alex Meret – 8 – That save from Salah’s effort in the second half now looks that much more important after Napoli’s late penalty. Great distribution from the young Italian, who looks like a seriously talented goalkeeper.

Giovanni Di Lorenzo – 5 – Looked a little nervous in possession on his Champions League debut and was one of the least convincing Napoli performers on the night.

Kostas Manolas – 5 – Had a strong first half but looked more nervous as the game went on. Sliced a clearance straight into the path of Salah but was bailed out by an important Meret save.

Kalidou Koulibaly – 8 – Just like last season, was seriously tested by Salah but acted brilliantly as Napoli’s last line of defence, making vital tackles, blocks and clearances when all else around him failed. Was bound to be judged against Van Dijk tonight and he did his reputation no harm.

Mario Rui – 7 – Put a brilliant cross in for Mertens’ effort in the second half and bombed up and down the left flank with boundless energy, contributing in both attack and defence.

Jose Callejon – 7 – Maybe went down a little easily under Robertson’s challenge for the late penalty but, regardless, there was contact and it turned out to be a vital contribution.

Allan – 9 – Did an excellent job in breaking up Liverpool’s play with three tackles and an interception. On the ball, the Brazilian was equally impressive, turning well under pressure and completing 88% of his passes. Withdrawn in the final quarter due to injury.

Fabian Ruiz – 8 – A controlled and dominant performance in midfield from the young Spaniard, who completed 91% of his passes – the second-highest rate of any Napoli player – made two tackles and completed an interception.

Lorenzo Insigne – 5 – Looked lively in spells but was very lucky not to cost Napoli a goal when dispossessed by Mane in the second half. Was saved by the Senegal international’s overhit pass to Salah.

Dries Mertens – 7 – Saw a close-range effort brilliantly saved by Adrian but had the last laugh with his late penalty. Always caused a threat with his movement off the forward line, making him very hard to pick up.

Hirving Lozano – 6 – Caused a few problems with his dribbling and took up some great positions but well marshalled by Van Dijk and Matip.

Subs:

Piotr Zielinski (66 mins, for Insigne) – 6 – A quiet but efficient performance in the middle as Ancelotti looked to reshape in the second half.

Fernando Llorente (68 mins, for Lozano) – 7 – Not a bad little cameo from super-sub Llorente, who profited from a Van Dijk-Robertson mix up to open his Napoli account.

Eljif Elmas (75 mins, for Allan) – 5 – Quite sloppy with the ball when he replaced Allan and did little to stop Liverpool pressing Napoli toward their own goal. The two late goals quietly bailed him out.

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Liverpool

Adrian – 8 – Made a smart double save from Ruiz in the first half and an unbelievable stop from Mertens at the start of the second. Got a hand to Mertens’ penalty but couldn’t keep it out – the only mark on an otherwise flawless performance.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7 – His attacking instincts mean Alexander-Arnold is always likely to be caught out of position now and again and that was the case tonight. Covered across his backline brilliantly, though, in the first half to stop Lozano getting in on goal.

Joel Matip – 8 – Another solid performance from an underrated centre-back, kept Napoli’s lively attackers at bay for most of the night.

Virgil van Dijk – 6 – Was nailed on for an 8/10 all night until that horrific mix up with Robertson for Napoli’s second. Had looked authoritative and in control until that point – he’s human after all.

Andy Robertson – 4 – Booked for a cynical pull-back on Callejon but that was the least of Robertson’s worries. After really struggling during international duty last week, his confidence seemed to bleed out here, too, swiping a wild leg at Callejon to give away the penalty – even if contact was minimal – and playing his part in a disastrous second goal.

Jordan Henderson – 6 – Made some good tackles and had plenty of energy but was far too sloppy in possession, notching a 79% pass completion rate.

Fabinho – 9 – Another fantastic performance from Fabinho, who made a match-high six tackles and completed 95% of his passes. Maybe Gary Neville is right about him being the best defensive midfielder around.

James Milner – 6 – Worked hard in midfield with three tackles but was a little more sloppy in possession than those around him, completing just 78% of his passes.

Mohamed Salah – 7 – Tested Koulibaly all night in what was a fantastic duel to watch. Had an effort well-saved by Meret in the second half but overall, a quiet one by Salah’s standards.

Roberto Firmino – 8 – Missed a good chance with a free header in the first half but linked up brilliantly with his attacking partners as always, dropping between the lines, creating space and unlocking the Napoli defence where possible.

Sadio Mane – 5 – His electric movement meant Mane had a number of chances to score for himself or set up one for his teammates but, unusually, his touch was nowhere his high standards. Fluffed a great chance to set up Salah in the second half, overhitting his pass.

Subs:

Georginio Wijnaldum (66 mins, for Milner) – 6 – Looked tidy and controlled in possession when he came on but couldn’t influence the game in the final third.

Xherdan Shaqiri (87 mins, for Henderson) – 6 – Didn’t have enough time have a telling impact on the game.