NAPLES (Italy) • The Stadio San Paolo is never the easiest of places to visit, but Liverpool had every reason to feel confident going into the match against Napoli after snatching a 1-1 draw at Chelsea on Sunday to maintain their unbeaten start to the Premier League campaign.
But, if Jurgen Klopp's men were on a high prior to their Champions League trip to Italy on Wednesday, they were brought crashing back down to earth after receiving a "reality check" courtesy of Lorenzo Insigne's stoppage-time winner.
And the Reds manager admitted his high-flying side were second-best to their Italian Serie A opponents, whose 1-0 victory ensured they went top of Group C and maintained their 100 per cent home record this term.
"We were not good enough and, if you are not good enough, you'll lose and that happened to us tonight. That's it," the 51-year-old German said.
"Napoli made a really good game, we didn't, and that's why they deserve the three points."
Napoli dominated from the start in what was an uncharacteristically error-strewn and passive display from Liverpool, who were lucky to lose by only a goal, with substitute Dries Mertens also rattling the crossbar for the Italian side.
The hosts, who are managed by former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti, had the better chances throughout as Jose Callejon, Fabian Ruiz and Arkadiusz Milik failed to find a way past goalkeeper Alisson, while Liverpool's best effort came when Mohamed Salah shot wide after the break.
POOR DISPLAY OVERALL
Obviously no attempt on target... The timing for our defensive movements was not good enough.
JURGEN KLOPP, Liverpool manager, on how badly his side played against Napoli.
"It's always a bad sign if you have to say your goalkeeper was your best player, but that was obvious tonight," Klopp, whose side failed to even test their opponents' No. 1 David Ospina once, added.
"Obviously no attempt on target (for us)... I don't remember when that happened last. I am really fine to give the credit to Napoli, but we had a big part in it as well.
"The timing for our defensive movements was not good enough, we didn't close the spaces in the right moment, we didn't react in the right situation. Things like this happen, but not as often as they did tonight, and it costs energy."
He also lamented the early withdrawal of Naby Keita, who left the field complaining of back pain, and his substitution upset Liverpool's rhythm.
Sky Sports confirmed yesterday that the midfielder would return to Merseyside with the rest of the squad, and his participation in Sunday's top-of-the-table home clash with Manchester City is not expected to be in doubt.
The Premier League champions will be Liverpool's final opponents in a testing run that has seen Klopp's team face Tottenham, French champions Paris Saint-Germain, Southampton, Chelsea (twice) and Napoli since Sept 15, and Klopp is hoping his weary side can rise to the occasion in front of the Anfield faithful.
"We have three days to recover and then we will face City," he said.
"It would have been difficult at any time in the season. Now let's have a look afterwards, how the players are, what happened in the game, injury-wise.
"Then we will prepare for Sunday. We (will) have our crowd in the back. You could see tonight, Napoli used the atmosphere and we couldn't calm it down with our performance. On Sunday, that will be 100 per cent different."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN