Good evening! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole
for tonight's Champions League
Group E showdown between Napoli
at the Stadio San Paolo!
The opening round of group games has thrown up a few mouth-watering glamour ties this season, and tonight's match is one of them with Liverpool beginning the defence of their crown at a stadium where they were beaten last season. It is the runners-up in Serie A against the runners-up in the Premier League, and it promises to be an enthralling affair.
Kickoff is only five minutes away, so let's have a quick look at the team news before we get started!
NAPOLI STARTING XI:
Meret; Di Lorenzo, Manolas, Koulibaly, Rui; Callejon, Allan, Ruiz, Insigne; Lozano, Mertens
SUBS: Zielinski, Elmas, Ghoulam, Ospina, Milik, Maksimovic, Llorente
LIVERPOOL STARTING XI: Adrian
; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Milner; Salah, Firmino, Mane
SUBS: Shaqiri, Kelleher, Gomez, Lovren, Lallana, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wijnaldum
KICKOFF: Here we go! Liverpool get us underway in Naples!
Liverpool make their first break forward as Firmino wins the ball back, back-heels it to Henderson who then releases Salah. The winger shows electric pace to streak clear of the defender, but the angle is against him and in the end he has to settle for a corner.
Napoli respond with a threatening attack of their own, forcing Van Dijk into a stooping header behind for a corner.
DISALLOWED GOAL! Napoli have the ball in the back of the net at the end of a swift break, but the offside is quickly raised! Just before that it was a fine double save from Adrian to deny two powerful efforts from Fabian Ruiz, but Lozano nodded the second rebound home from an offside position.
That will give Napoli some encouragement in these early stages. They got in behind Liverpool and had two clear sights of goal before the ball ended up in the back of the net.
Napoli almost get in behind again as a ball is floated over the top and Insigne brings it down inside the area, and he is only denied a clear chance by Alexander-Arnold getting in behind and making a crucial challenge.
Superb from Fabinho as he slides in to win the ball and then quickly gets back up to drive forward. He plays it through to Salah, but Koulibaly comes out on top in that duel this time.
Mertens swings a corner into the box which Manolas gets his head to, but the defender does just about enough to prevent him steering it towards goal.
CHANCE! Another chance for Napoli, who really are posing an attacking threat tonight. This time a ball from the right is swung to the back post where Fabian is waiting unmarked, but he opts to turn it back across the face of goal and Van Dijk is there to hack the ball clear.
Robertson swings a beauty of a diagonal pass out towards Mane, who can't take it in his stride. Mane seems to have gone central for now, with Firmino out on the left.
Alexander-Arnold fizzes a ball into the feet of Firmino, who controls it but then can't quite get it out of his feet to provide the type of flick he produced so effectively at the weekend.
CHANCE! Liverpool have their first big chance of the match as Insigne gifts possession straight to Henderson in a dangerous position, allowing the Liverpool skipper to release Mane. The winger takes it down, but the angle is against him and his powerful effort is saved at the near post.
SHOT! Firmino plays a lovely ball through to Salah, who gets the wrong side of Koulibaly and then holds the Napoli man off. It is very clumsy from Koulibaly and had Salah gone down then it would surely be a penalty, but to Salah's credit he stays on his feet and gets a shot away, which is blocked. The danger is not yet over and the ball eventually falls back to Milner, who blasts an effort well off target from the edge of the box.
Liverpool are just gaining a certain degree of control over this game - not necessarily with possession but with how difficult they are making it for Napoli to play out from the back. There have been a few dangerous passes out from the defence in the last five minutes or so.
When they do get forward, though, they look dangerous. The ball is swing out to Mertens, who whips a devilish cross into the box which Matip does really well to nod over his own crossbar.
Koulibaly has had something of a mixed night so far tonight, putting in some fine challenges but also getting away with that clumsy one in the box and playing a few dangerous passes out from the back which have gone straight to Liverpool players.
Really good covering from Alexander-Arnold as he gets in to nip the ball off the toes of Lozano, who had beaten Matip. He almost plays it straight into the path of Mertens, but then takes him on in his own box too rather than risking a clearance which might have rebounded off the Belgian.
Liverpool stride forward with Firmino leading the charge, but his left-footed strike is blocked and he tries his luck with a volley on the dropping ball, but that is not well struck and bobbles comfortably into the arms of the keeper.
Napoli come forward down the left this time with another switch of play which finds Rui in space. His cross is disappointing, though, and Matip clears at the near post.
Napoli have an extended spell of pressure in and around the Liverpool box, but that is ended by another brilliant challenge from Fabinho. He has been very good so far tonight.
Just a bit of a lull in proceedings now following a high-paced opening half-hour in Naples. These two sides both love to attack and that is making for an entertaining spectacle here.
For all Liverpool have threatened tonight, Meret has only really had that one save to make from Mane. The visitors need to do more in the final third, with Firmino in particular unable to exert his usual authority on the game just yet.
SHOT! Salah tries to test the keeper with a strike from around 25 yards, but he drags it wide of the near post.
Just over five minutes remaining of this first half now and still we are goalless in Naples. Liverpool will go into every game at the moment feeling as though they can win it, but a drawn would not be the worst result for them tonight.
Salah's pace has caused problems for Napoli in this match so far, but he is still waiting for his first big chance. The Egyptian is involved in a particularly fascinating battle with Koulibaly.
CHANCE! Really good play from Liverpool as Firmino plucks a high ball out of the air before playing it inside for Mane, who in turn release Milner behind the defence. The midfielder doesn't seem keen to go for goal himself and tries to find Salah, but the ball is cut out.
CLOSE! Liverpool's best chance of the half comes right at the death! Milner swings a cross into the box and Firmino finds himself completely unmarked, but he flicks his header narrowly wide when he will feel as though he should have done better.
HALF TIME: NAPOLI 0-0 LIVERPOOL
The first half comes to an end at the Stadio San Paolo and we are still goalless between Napoli and Liverpool, although this is by no means a bore draw as things stand.
Both sides have played with clear attacking intent and are looking to get forward whenever possible, they just need to be a bit more clinical in the final third. The defences have also been impressive in fairness.
Liverpool have had two clear chances, perhaps the best of which came just before the break when an unmarked Firmino glanced his header narrowly past the post.
Mane has also had a good sight of goal when he was released by Henderson into the box, but the angle was against him and he was denied by Meret.
Napoli's best sights of goal all came in one attacking move, which actually ended with the ball in the back of the net - albeit from an offside position.
It was Fabian Ruiz who offered the initial threat with a couple of powerful strikes which were beaten away by Adrian, and Lozano then nodded the second rebound home from close range only to be correctly flagged offside.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE HALF-TIME SCORES
Ajax 1-0 Lille
Benfica 0-0 RB Leipzig
Chelsea 0-0 Valencia
Dortmund 0-0 Barcelona
Salzburg 5-1 Genk
KICKOFF: Napoli get us back underway for the second half!
UPDATE: There has been an early second-half goal in Amsterdam, where Ajax lead Lille 2-0 now. A reminder that Salzburg and Genk are the other two teams in this group, with Salzburg leading 5-1 at half-time thanks largely to a fourth hat-trick of the season for Erling Haaland, who is just 19 years old.
CHANCE! Oh my word, what a save this is from Adrian to keep the scores goalles! A cross from the left is just too high for Van Dijk and Mertens meets it with a cushioned volley at the back post. The Belgian cannot do any more, but Adrian flies across to make a truly sensational stop, tipping it over one-handed. You will struggle to see a better save all tournament - Alisson would have been proud of that one!
Almost a chance for Liverpool at the other end as Henderson's cross into the box finds Mane, who takes the ball down on his thigh but is then well tackled by Di Lorenzo.
Napoli come surging forward again here with Callejon finding space on the overlap down the right. The winger tries to play a low pass back into the middle, but Van Dijk coolly deals with the danger.
CHANCE! Liverpool have a great chance to break as Mane comes racing forward in a two-on-one situation. Mario Rui is the man back dealing with the daunting task, but he does brilliantly to delay Mane's pass and when it eventually arrives it is overhit.
YELLOW CARD! The first yellow card of the night goes to Andy Robertson for an off-the-ball challenge on Callejon.
UPDATE: Could the comeback be on?! Genk have pulled another goal back against Salzburg to make it 5-2 in the night's other Group E game.
UPDATE: ...and another update - Ajax have moved 3-0 ahead against Lille in Amsterdam. Elsewhere, Dortmund have just won and missed a penalty against Barcelona, with Ter Stegen making the save.
YELLOW CARD! Milner quickly follows Robertson into the box, again for a challenge on Callejon.
I mentioned Koulibaly has had a mixed game a little early, but from a defensively standpoint alone he has had a blinder. This time he makes a perfectly-timed challenge on Firmino to thwart a dangerous Liverpool attack.
A misplaced pass from Alexander-Arnold allows Napoli the chance to break, but Liverpool are quickly back and Napoli are forced to recycle it.
CHANCE! Fine save from Meret to deny Salah! Koulibaly nods the ball towards Manolas, but his attempted volleyed clearance is horribly sliced right into the path of Salah inside the box. The Liverpool winger goes for goal first time and hits it really well, but Meret is down sharply to his left to get a crucial fingertip to it.
LIVERPOOL SUB: Liverpool make their first change of the evening as Georginio Wijnaldum replaces Milner.
NAPOLI SUB: Napoli also make a sub with Insigne being replaced by Piotr Zielinski - once a transfer target of Liverpool.
Another change for the hosts sees former Tottenham man Fernando Llorente
UPDATE: It is turning into a good night for the Red Bulls! Salzburg have just scored a sixth against Genk - the Austrians certainly won't be whipping boys for these two - while Leipzig have just taken the lead against Benfica.
Stoppage in play here as Allan goes down with what looks like cramp. He may be able to continue, although he will need treatment from the physios first.
CHANCE! Another chance for Liverpool as Mane feeds the ball into the feet of Firmino, who returns the favour with a flick around the corner. Mane races into the box, but his finish is too close to Meret.
NAPOLI SUB: A third and final change for the hosts sees Allan depart to be replaced by Eljif Elmas.
UPDATE: The other English team in action tonight could be on course for defeat - and on Frank Lampard's managerial debut in the Champions League. Valencia have just taken the lead against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge through Rodrigo.
A sustained period of pressure ends with Alexander-Arnold swinging a beauty of a cross into the box, but it is just a yard or so too far in front of Mane.
PENALTY! PENALTY TO NAPOLI! Napoli have a penalty as Robertson sticks out a leg to bring down Callejon, who just got his toe to the ball before the Liverpool full-back. VAR will have a look, but it looks like it will stand!
GOAL! NAPOLI 1-0 LIVERPOOL (DRIES MERTENS, PENALTY)
GOAL! Adrian guesses the right way and gets a hand to the ball, but there is enough power behind the spot kick to beat him and nestle into the bottom corner. Napoli again score late at home to lead Liverpool!
Liverpool have a bit more time to respond tonight than they did in Naples last year, but they need to come up with something quickly nonetheless. Just over five minutes remaining here!
There are deafening whistles and boos whenever Liverpool have the ball now, which is most of the time. Alexander-Arnold swings a cross into the box which Manolas glances narrowly wide of his own post.
LIVERPOOL SUB: Shaqiri comes on for Henderson in a bid to find some late creativity for Liverpool.
Time is running out for Liverpool now! They will not panic with defeat here having also lost here last season but gone on to win the trophy, but it is not an ideal start to the campaign by any means.
YELLOW CARD! Llorente goes into the book late on.
There will be five minutes of added time at the end of this match!
GOAL! NAPOLI 2-0 LIVERPOOL (FERNANDO LLORENTE)
It is well and truly game over now! Llorente puts the game to bed with his first Napoli goal, pouncing on a mistake from Van Dijk of all people to slot home.
The dutchman was under pressure and put too much on his pass back to Robertson, playing it straight through for Llorente who was left with only the keeper to beat.
FULL TIME: NAPOLI 2-0 LIVERPOOL
It is joy for Napoli at home to Liverpool for a second consecutive season, then, as they once again leave it late to beat the Reds in Naples and gain an early advantage at the top of Group E.
Mertens got the opening goal from the penalty spot in the 82nd minute, and Fernando Llorente added the second to secure the points 10 minutes later.
Right, that is all we have time for this evening!
Thank you for joining Sports Mole for tonight's Champions League clash between Napoli and Liverpool as the hosts score twice late on to seal victory over the holders. I will leave you with our match report, and be sure to stick around for reaction too.
From me, though, it is goodbye for now!