Liverpool failed to defend their crown their first time out, as they fell 0-2 to Napoli in Italy for their first UEFA Champions League’s group stage draw.
The defending champions were in control of the game for most of the time, but a terrible penalty call after a clear Jose Callejon dive eventually opened the door for the local team to jump ahead in the scoreboard.
— Deep Dastardly (@srijandeep) September 17, 2019
Notably, Jurgen Klopp didn’t hesitate to take a shot at the officiating because of that poor call, especially considering there wasn’t a VAR review to rule off the penalty. Still, the German boss acknowledged that his side wasn’t sharp enough to pull off the win:
“What can I say? For me, it’s clear and obvious not a penalty because Callejon jumps before there’s any contact. But we can’t change that. We have to be critical with ourselves. We could have done better. They did well in a lot of moments, we played a lot of good football that we didn’t finish off. We had our chances. There were moments when we wanted a free-kick. I don’t understand why there was no free-kick when Sadio (Mane) goes down, up and down, up and down. You think ‘what’s happening here?'” Klopp told the media, as quoted by Sky Sports.
Moreover, the German boss went on to laud Napoli’s tactics and claim the Reds struggle to create offense during the final minutes of the game, claiming the lack of finishing hurt them:
“We controlled moments but didn’t have a lot of chances at the end. You saw a lot of respect from both sides where we both defended well, but each ball we lost or they lost was immediately a threat. In these situations, you have to finish it off. I think one situation, Sadio was running. If he makes two more steps and shot, but from the beginning he wanted to pass the ball, in the end, you’re like make another step and you can do it yourself.
We made these decisions that were not right tonight and we have to accept the result. It should hurt because there were opportunities to win the game. This was a much better game than the last time we played them and they won 1-0 in the last minute. It was an open game. There were moments when we controlled the game, we had a lot of counterattacks but didn’t finish them off. That’s a problem. In the second half, we had this wild game. We were running, they were running and that killed everyone on the pitch. Then we started controlling it again but conceded a penalty. That doesn’t help. I don’t think it’s a penalty. I’ve really no idea. It’s difficult,” Klopp concluded.
Liverpool will now face Red Bull Salzburg at Anfield on October 2, while Napoli will try to keep the momentum going when they travel to face Genk.