Liverpool bounced back from defeat versus Leeds United with a hard-fought 2-0 victory versus Napoli, but it did not stop the Serie A side from finishing top of their Champions League group.
Mohamed Salah poked home from close range in the 85th minute while Darwin Nunez added another late on to give Jurgen Klopp’s side a crucial victory following their 2-1 loss against Leeds at the weekend — although Liverpool failed to beat Napoli by the four goals or more they needed to win the group.
Salah’s goal meant he equaled Steven Gerrard as Liverpool’s record scorer in European competition with 41 goals.
“That was the reaction I wanted to see,” Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp said.
“We don’t doubt our quality, I don’t think anyone doubts that, but part of the problem is we show inconsistency.
“It was the worst possible start to this group with the performance against Napoli. They deserved the first place in the group.”
Klopp made four changes from the side who were beaten in that game at Anfield but there were few opportunities in the first half, with the standout moment a curling effort from Thiago which Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret turned away.
Napoli appeared to draw first blood in the 53rd minute when Leo Ostigard headed home an inswinging free-kick from Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, but the goal was ruled offside after a VAR review.
But it was Liverpool who found the breakthrough when Salah turned home late on after Nunez’s header from a corner had been fumbled by Meret.
Liverpool topped off the victory in stoppage time when Nunez fired home on the rebound after a towering header from Virgil van Dijk, with the goal ruled onside after a lengthy review.
“We are proud of getting through such a difficult group, not only getting through but topping it,” Spalletti said. “I think we kept the game very even, we created chances for ourselves, we suffered in moments. “We were playing a giant like Liverpool at Anfield. I can only say well done to my players.”