Liverpool stuttered their way to a draw with Napoli in the Champions League as Carlo Ancelotti’s well drilled defence held firm.
The first half went from bad to worse for the Reds as Fabinho was substituted with an ankle injury, Virgil van Dijk appeared to go down with the same problem and Dries Mertens scored after being allowed a free run into the box by Dejan Lovren.
It took nearly the whole 45 before Liverpool registered a shot on goal as van Dijk headed a weak effort straight at Alex Meret, although Jurgen Klopp’s team did finish strongly after Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino began to combine well.
The first half ended after Klopp was shown the yellow card by Spanish official Carlos del Cerro Grande for his over-zealous protesting on the touchline, although his players seemed distinctly less fired up than their boss.
Liverpool began the second half with more energy and passion even if the result was the same. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was introduced for Joe Gomez and made an instant impact as he sent a beautiful cross towards Firmino, which the Brazilian headed wide.
Things were starting to happen for the Reds and their persistence eventually brought a goal. Dejan Lovren rose high above the crowd to head home James Milner’s corner.
Napoli appeared to be content to invite pressure and fell back into banks of four as they waited out the clock. Liverpool pressed but couldn’t find their cutting edge and had to settle for a point.
They will need to go away to Sazburg and win in order to progress to the next round as group leaders, while Napoli will have a more routine clash against Belgian whipping boys Genk.
All eyes will be on game week six, and Klopp will demand a better performance than the one they produced on Wednesday night.