LIVERPOOL: European champions Liverpool need a draw in Salzburg in the last matchday of Champions League Group E to carry their defence of the crown into the knockout stage.
They missed the chance of going through with a game to spare after being held 1:1 at Anfield by Napoli. A second-half header from Dejan Lovren wiped out an early Italian advantage gained by Dries Mertens.
Mohamed Salah returned for Liverpool as Klopp made three changes from the win at Crystal Palace at the weekend.
Joe Gomez and James Milner replaced Trent Alexander-Arnold and Georginio Wijnaldum while Xherdan Shaqiri was on the subs’ bench for the first time since September after returning from injury. Joel Matip was again absent because of a knee injury
Napoli were weakened in attack by the absence of injured Lorenzo Insigne.
The reigning champions lost 2-0 in Italy in September to Napoli whose coach Carlo Ancelotti has won the Champions League three times as a manager – twice with AC Milan and once with Real Madrid.
The first half saw Liverpool’s poorest performance of the season and also cost them the services of Brazilian midfielder Fabinho who had to be substituted because of injury.
They went behind to a goal from Mertens after 21 minutes which had to be ratified by VAR after a lengthy delay.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s frustration boiled over minutes later when he was shown a yellow card for complaining angrily to the officials about a foul on Sadio Mane by Brazilian midfielder Allan.
The Reds are eight points clear at the top of the Premier League, having only dropped two points all season, while Napoli are seventh in Serie A, 15 points behind leaders Juventus.
Chelsea keep going
Chelsea love Mestalla. They have played there four times and have never lost. Their undefeated record of two wins and two draws was extended by a 2-2 draw which means they must win at home to Lille to reach the knockout stage. Valencia will need to win away to Ajax in Amsterdam.
Frank Lampard’s Blues have come a long way since the first matchday when Valencia won at Stamford Bridge. Valencia took the lead through Carlos Soler five minutes before halftime only for Chelsea to hit back through Mateo Kovacic immediately and Christian Pulisic early in the second half with the help of VAR.
Kovacic’s goal was his first for Chelsea in his 71st appearance. His last goal had been in LaLiga in January 2017 when Real Madrid beat Real Sociedad 3-0. His previous Champions League goal had been more than three years ago.
Chelsea maintained their lead when goalkeeper Kepa saved a penalty from Daniel Parejo but Valencia gained a deserved reward through Daniel Wass. Kepa was at fault this time, allowing Dane’s cross to sail into his goa.
Lampard had dropped England midfielder Ross Barkley after he had been pictured shirtless in a nightclub during the international break. Last month Barkley was involved in a dispute with a taxi driver in Liverpool where he used to play for Everton.
This week’s results:
TUE (Nov 26) — Gp A: Galatasaray 1, Brugge 1; Real Madrid 2, Paris Saint-Germain 2. Gp B: Crvena Zvezda 0, Bayern Munich 6; Tottenham 4, Olympiacos 2. Gp C: Atalanta 2, Dinamo Zagreb 0; Manchester City 1, Shakhtar Donetsk 1. Gp D: Lokomotiv Moscow 0, Bayer Leverkusen 2; Juventus 1, Atletico Madrid 0.
WED (Nov 27) — Gp E: Genk 1, Salzburg 4; Liverpool 1, Napoli 1. Gp F: Barcelona 3, Borussia Dortmund 1; Slavia Prague 1, Internazionale 3. Gp G: Zenit 2, Lyon 0; RB Leipzig 2, Benfica 2. Gp H: Valencia 2, Chelsea 2; Lille 0, Ajax 2.