Liverpool 1-0 Napoli: Mohamed Salah secures Champions League last-16 place
Liverpool qualify from Champions League Group C in second place behind Paris Saint-Germain
By James Walker-Roberts
Last Updated: 12/12/18 7:54am
Liverpool advanced to the last 16 of the Champions League with a tense 1-0 win over Napoli at Anfield.
Mohamed Salah scored the only goal of the game in the 34th minute, finishing past David Ospina from a tight angle.
Needing to win to qualify, Liverpool spurned a host of chances to add to their lead, with Sadio Mane missing two glorious opportunities from close range.
Liverpool: Alisson (8), Alexander-Arnold (7), Matip (8), Van Dijk (8), Robertson (8), Wijnaldum (8), Henderson (7), Milner (7), Mane (5), Salah (7), Fimino (6)
Subs: Keita (5), Fabinho (5), Lovren (5)
Napoli: Ospina (6), Maksimovic (5), Albiol (5), Koulibaly (6), Rui (5), Callejon (5), Allan (5), Hamsik (5), Fabian (5), Mertens (5), Insigne (5)
Subs: Ghoulam (5), Zielinski (5), Milik (5)
Man of the match: Andy Robertson
That allowed Napoli to stay alive and only a crucial point-blank injury-time save from Alisson prevented Arkadiusz Milik from scoring and knocking Liverpool out of the Champions League.
The result sees Jurgen Klopp's side finish second in Group C behind Paris Saint-Germain, who won 4-1 against Red Star Belgrade.
Both Liverpool and PSG will now look forward to the last-16 draw on December 17, having come through one of the more difficult groups in this season's competition.
In truth, Liverpool's night should have been more comfortable than it was in the final 20 minutes, given the number of chances they created.
They were the better side throughout, with Salah and James Milner spurning early openings either side of Marek Hamsik shooting over from the edge of the box.
The opening goal arrived in the 34th minute when Salah shimmied past Kalidou Koulibaly and then finished past Ospina, who was caught creeping out of his goal in expectation of a cross rather than a shot.
Salah shot wide at the start of the second half after breaking into the box before Roberto Firmino headed at Ospina.
It looked only a matter of time before Liverpool scored again as Milner curled wide and then Salah took the ball around Ospina, only to be denied by a flying save from the goalkeeper.
As the clock ticked down, and with Napoli only needing to score once to advance, the atmosphere grew more tense.
Jordan Henderson and Sadio Mane started for Liverpool along with Joel Matip, with Fabinho, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri dropping to the bench from the win over Bournemouth on Saturday.
Dries Mertens started ahead of Arkadiusz Milik for Napoli.
Mane was denied from close range by Ospina before Jose Callejon spurned Napoli's best opening when he shot over at the back post.
Mane then missed a superb chance, firing wide from an excellent position in front of goal.
That kept Napoli in the game and only a superb save from Alisson in injury-time prevented Milik from snatching a draw for the visitors that would have seen them advance at Liverpool's expense.
- Liverpool have progressed to the knockout stages in successive Champions League campaigns for the first time since 2008-09 (5 in a row).
- Liverpool are unbeaten in 19 successive European matches at Anfield (W14 D5 L0), last losing at home in European competition back in October 2014 against Real Madrid (0-3).
- Napoli haven't won any of their last seven UEFA Champions League away matches (W0 D2 L5), with their last victory on the road in the competition coming against Benfica, back in December 2016 (2-1).
- Liverpool have kept clean sheets in six of their last eight Champions League games at Anfield, including each of the last two.
- Mohamed Salah has had a hand in 48 goals in 38 games in all competitions for Liverpool at Anfield (35 goals, 13 assists).
- Since the start of last season, Liverpool's James Milner has provided more assists in the Champions League than any other player (9).
Man of the match - Andy Robertson
Alisson's save at the end was crucial, but Robertson produced a brilliant all-round display. He was full of running, bursting down the left side and putting in several good crosses, and also played a key role in keeping Napoli's forwards quiet for most of the night.
Liverpool host Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday before a trip to Wolves on Friday, December 21. Both games are live on Sky Sports.
The draw for the last 16 will be on December 17 in Nyon, Switzerland.