Football: Salah fires Liverpool into Champions League last 16

Liverpool's Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah (right) runs past Napoli's Portuguese defender Mario Rui during the UEFA Champions League group C football match between Liverpool and Napoli at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, north west England, on Dec 11
Liverpool's Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah (right) runs past Napoli's Portuguese defender Mario Rui during the UEFA Champions League group C football match between Liverpool and Napoli at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, north west England, on Dec 11, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

LIVERPOOL (REUTERS) - Mohamed Salah's delightful first-half strike gave Liverpool a 1-0 win over Napoli at Anfield on Tuesday (Dec 11) that sent them into the Champions League's last 16 and the Italian side crashing out.

Liverpool knew that a 1-0 win, or a victory by two goals or more, would be enough to seal a top two spot in Group C, and Salah was again the hero for the hosts, scoring what proved to be the winner in the 34th minute.

Napoli pressed for a leveller in the second half, with Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson denying Arkadiusz Milik in stoppage time, but the home side's resolute defence - which has conceded just six Premier League goals all season so far - stood firm.

Paris St Germain's 4-1 victory at Red Star Belgrade meant they finished top with 11 points while Napoli, who started the day leading the way, exited the competition as Liverpool snatched second spot on goals scored after both teams finished with nine points.

Jurgen Klopp stuck with the midfield three that struggled against PSG in their last Champions League match and it was Napoli who found their rhythm first, creating some promising openings early on.

Salah was then presented with a glorious opportunity to break the deadlock, but his touch let him down at the last moment while at the other end, Marek Hamsik could not find the target from a good position.

Kalidou Koulibaly was doing a fine job of marking Salah, until the Egyptian produced a moment of magic to score the only goal of the game, skipping past Koulibaly before slotting in from a tight angle - his 34th goal for Liverpool in 2018 in all competitions.

 

Liverpool really should have extended their lead in the second half, with Salah firing wide from a good position, before Sadio Mane was denied by a fine save from David Ospina.

Napoli saved their best attacking play for the latter stages, with Jose Callejon firing over from close range, before Mane somehow shot wide when he should have scored.

Milik almost broke Liverpool hearts right at the death, only to be denied by Alisson, who raced from his line to make a game-saving block.