A delightful first-half strike by Mohamed Salah gave Liverpool a 1-0 triumph over Napoli on Tuesday night and ensured their qualification into the quarter finals of the UEFA Champions League.
The Reds knew that a 1-0 win or a victory by two goals or more would be enough to seal a top-two spot in Group C and Salah was again the hero for the hosts, scoring what proved to be the winner with a magical individual effort in the 34th minute which sent the Italian side crashing out at a tension-filled Anfield Stadium.
Mali’s Kalidou Koulibaly was doing a fine job of marking Salah until the Egyptian produced a moment of magic to score the only goal of the game, skipping past the defender before slotting in from a tight angle to score his 34th goal for Liverpool in all competitions in 2018.
The English side could have doubled their lead in the second half but Salah fired wide from a good position and Sadio Mane was denied a goal by a fine save from Napoli’s goalie, David Ospina .
Napoli pressed for an equalizer in the second half but Liverpool goalkeeper, Alisson denied Arkadiusz Milik in stoppage time with a superb save. Liverpool’s resolute defence stood firm till final whistle, much to the relief of the home fans.
Paris St Germain’s 4-1 victory at Red Star Belgrade meant they finished top of the group with 11 points while Napoli, who started the day as group leaders, exited the competition as Liverpool snatched second spot on goals scored after both teams finished with nine points.
“I’m still full of good feeling. This game was just amazing. Outstanding, unbelievable. The boys played with their whole heart on the pitch,” Liverpool manager, Juergen Klopp said after the match.
Also speaking after the grueling encounter, Napoli boss, Carlo Ancelotti said: “Napoli have gone very close but not quite far enough.
“We have no regrets really. The players have done well in such a very difficult group. It would have been a wonderful achievement to qualify. Lots of people did not even think we would take it this far.”