Red hot Mo Salah fired Liverpool into the Champions League last 16 with a priceless Anfield goal to down Napoli.
Away defeats in Paris, Belgrade and Napoli had put Liverpool in a sticky situation but a narrow victory was enough to see off the prospect of a Group stage exit and Europa League football in the New Year.
Right from the start Liverpool went for the jugular and they rattled a Napoli side previously unbeaten in twelve games in all competitions.
And they were rewarded after 34 minutes when Salah superbly fired Klopp’s stars into a vital lead as he sliced through Napoli’s defence.
Salah shaved the post after 50 minutes as Liverpool wasted a host of second half chances against Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
But with Napoli only needing a goal to put Liverpool out it was tense and nervy second half before victory was finally clinched to Klopps relief
1. Mo Salah has sprung to life at a crucial time for Liverpool
Until this month Salah hadn’t reached the peaks of last season – but the Egyptian star has burst into life the last few days first with a hat-trick at Bournemouth and then his opener against Napoli.
The striker was back to his electric best against Napoli and although he found a worthy adversary in Kalidou Koulibaly even the top drawer Senegal defender couldn’t keep the £34 million attacker at bay.
His first half finish was typical Salah – and a priceless goal for Liverpool’s season.
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2. The ‘Anfield effect’
The ‘Anfield effect’ is well-known on big European nights and Liverpool players always respond especially when the chips are down
But Jurgen Klopp needs to get his stars tuned in to making sure they deliver on their travels in Europe.
The Reds lost all three of their away games in Group C and had a scramble to make it into the last 16 knock-out phase.
And Klopp will know if they don’t improve on Euro away days they can kiss goodbye to a repeat of another final at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid next May.
3. Van Dijk monstrous again
Virgil Van Dijk has been a tower of strength since his £75 million arrival at Anfield in January.
He’s beefed up and organised a defence that was a liability with a mixture of speed, power and commanding authority.
But the 27-year-old Dutchman was lucky to not be sent off for a shocking first half tackle on Belgian Dries Mertens that only drew a yellow card from lenient Slovakian referee Damir Skomina.
4. Koulibaly as impressive
Napoli central defender Kalidou Koulibaly is a target for Manchester United – and he showed why at Anfield.
The Italians have reportedly slapped a £90 million price tag on the powerfully aggressive 27-year-old Senegalese star and at times in this Champions League thriller it wasn’t hard to see why.
He couldn’t prevent Mo Salah grabbing the opener for Liverpool but his tackling, ability to spot danger and dynamic athleticism were hugely impressive and he has a game tailor-made for English football.
5. Ospina defiant
David Ospina was never taken too seriously at Arsenal making just 27 Premier League appearances in four seasons at The Emirates.
But the Colombian, on loan at Napoli, made a string of fine saves to make Liverpool sweat over their Champions League fate at Anfield last night.
Ospina didn’t have much chance with Mo Salah’s first half goal – but he did as much as any of Carlo Ancelotti’s stars to hold up Liverpool’s progress to the knock-out stage next year.
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