PARIS (AFP) – Mohamed Salah’s first-half goal and a stunning late save from goalkeeper Alisson saw Liverpool edge into the Champions League knockout stage after a tense 1-0 win over Napoli on Tuesday, while Lucas Moura’s late strike saw Tottenham progress with a draw at Barcelona.
Last year’s runners-up Liverpool knew victory by two goals or a 1-0 triumph would put them through to the last 16 from Group C, and Salah’s cool 34th-minute strike proved enough as they finished ahead of Napoli on goals scored.
“Wow, what a game. I am not sure a manager could be prouder of a team than I am,” Reds boss Jurgen Klopp told BT Sport.
Paris Saint-Germain reached the knockout rounds as group winner thanks to a 4-1 victory over Red Star Belgrade, with Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani all on the scoresheet.
Liverpool grabbed the crucial goal at a raucous Anfield, as Salah jinked past Kalidou Koulibaly inside the area and slotted the ball beyond goalkeeper David Ospina.
Salah, who had already wasted an earlier chance with a heavy touch, continued to run Napoli ragged early in the second half, but Ospina saved from Jordan Henderson and James Milner curled wide as Carlo Ancelotti’s men stayed a goal from turning the group on its head.
The atmosphere around Anfield became increasingly tense as the Premier League leaders continued to miss opportunities, with Ospina springing to his left to tip away Salah’s attempted lob before denying Mane from point-blank range.
Senegal forward Mane was guilty of two further snatched efforts in front of goal, and Napoli almost made the Reds pay in the dying moments.
The ball fell for substitute striker Arkadiusz Milik unmarked in the area, but Alisson raced from his line to keep out the Pole’s strike with his legs.
‘’I have no idea how Alisson made a save like this,’’ gushed Klopp. ‘’It was amazing.’’