Napoli 2 Liverpool 0
Uefa Champions League group E
Liverpool’s defence of their Champions League crown began in ignominious fashion as they lost 2-0 at Napoli.
The Reds are the first holders to lose the opening game of the following campaign since AC Milan in 1994, and manager Jurgen Klopp admitted it had been a bad night for his side.
“It should hurt because there were opportunities for us,” he said. “It was an open game with a lot of counter attacks, but we didn’t finish them off and that is a problem.”
Napoli’s goals came late on with Dries Mertens scoring from the penalty spot on 82 minutes after Andy Robertson had fouled Jose Callejon. Then in stoppage time Fernando Llorente seized on a mistake from Virgil van Dijk to fire the ball past Adrian in the Liverpool goal.
“We controlled moments but had not enough chances in the end,” rued Klopp, whose side were twice denied by fine saves from Napoli’s Alex Meret.
“We made decisions that were not right and have to accept the result. It was very often the final ball that was not right.”
Asked about the penalty decision, Klopp said that in his eyes it was the wrong call by the referee. “Callejon jumps before he has any contact,” he told reporters. “But we cannot change that so we have to be critical with ourselves.”
Chelsea 0 Valencia 1
Uefa Champions League group H
It was an even worse night for the other Premier League club in action with Chelsea going down 1-0 at home to Valencia. To add to the Blues’s woes, Ross Barkley missed a late penalty that would have salvaged a share of the spoils for the London club.
As it is, Chelsea now face an uphill task to qualify for the knockout stages in a tough pool that also includes Lille and last year’s semi-finalists Ajax.
“We probably should have won, or at least got a draw,” reflected manager Frank Lampard. “We created enough chances, we had the penalty, and we conceded with their one shot on goal. It’s a harsh lesson but that’s Champions League football.”
Rodrigo put Valencia one up from a set-piece on 74 minutes but the Stamford Bridge faithful believed their boys were about to level the scores when VAR ruled that Daniel Wass had used his hand to block Fikayo Tomori’s header three minutes from time.
There was some animated discussion as to who should take the spot-kick and Barkley’s insistence won out, only for the Englishman to send the ball onto the crossbar.
“Ross is the penalty taker,” Lampard said when asked about the confusion. “He was in pre-season and scored a couple. He has been when he started. He was when he came on today and he missed it. That is the clear story.
“I don’t know what the conversation was, but Jorginho and Willian were the takers on the pitch. When Ross comes on he becomes the penalty taker.”
Today’s back pages
Champions League results and fixtures
Tuesday 17 September results
- Group E: FC Red Bull Salzburg 6 KRC Genk 2; Napoli 2 Liverpool 0
- Group F: Inter Milan 1 Slavia Prague 1; Borussia Dortmund 0 Barcelona 0
- Group G: Lyon 1 Zenit St Petersburg 1; Benfica 1 RB Leipzig 2
- Group H: Ajax 3 Lille 0; Chelsea 0 Valencia 1
Wednesday 18 September fixtures
- Club Brugge vs. Galatasaray (5.55pm live on BT Sport 1)
- Paris Saint-Germain vs. Real Madrid (8pm, live on BT Sport 2 and BT Sport Ultimate)
- Dinamo Zagreb vs. Atalanta (8pm, live on BT Sport Extra 3)
- Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Manchester City (8pm, live on BT Sport 3)
- Atlético Madrid vs. Juventus (8pm, live on BT Sport ESPN)
- Bayer 04 Leverkusen vs. Lokomotiv Moscow (8pm, live on BT Sport Extra 4)