Liverpool should have coasted to victory in their make-or-break Champions League decider but in the end, they progressed to the knockout stage with the minimum requirement of a 1-0 win against Napoli.
As has often been the case a moment of Mohamed Salah first-half magic broke the deadlock with a clever piece of penalty-area trickery.
Had Sadio Mane been even close to his sharpest, Jurgen Klopp’s side would have been out of sight without having to worry about the repercussions of conceding – which would have required a clear two-goal victory.
But Liverpool’s European exploits are rarely without drama and had goalkeeper Alisson Becker, a virtual spectator for 90 minutes, not kept out Arkadiusz Milik in added time they would have been staring into the Europa League abyss after Christmas.
It was the sixth time in eight occasions in the Champions League they had progressed to the knockout stage having had to get a result in their final group game.
Among their previous successes was the famous night at home to Olympiakos in 2004-05 when they were faced with the same scenario as against Napoli: win 1-0 or by two clear goals with the latter eventually being required thanks to Steven Gerrard’s late intervention.
The 2018 version has Salah as their talisman and he scored his 35th goal in his last 38 Anfield appearances to go level with Ian Rush on 14 goals in this competition – in just 21 matches – with only Gerrard (30) now ahead of him.
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