Lorenzo Insigne scored a last-gasp winner as Napoli downed Liverpool 1-0 at the Stadio San Paolo in the Champions League.
After a first half of few clear chances, the Partenopei stepped up a gear after the break and were rewarded with a sliding Insigne goal as the match entered stoppage time.
Earlier, substitute Dries Mertens stepped off the bench to meet Mario Rui’s tantalising cross, but could only watch on as his volley cannoned off the bar and away. Jose Callejon had also seen an earlier volley cleared off the line.
The hosts looked the more likely to break the deadlock in the opening period, with Trent Alexander-Arnold being caught of position as Arkadiusz Milik pounced on a wayward Naby Keita pass to find Callejon. The Spaniard released Insigne, who chested down and drove beyond the far post.
Liverpool began to threaten as the half wore on, and James Milner threaded through for Mohamed Salah to burst into the box. Kalidou Koulibaly read the move however and expertly cleared with a sliding tackle.
The best chance of the first half fell late on to Milik, as the Poland international controlled Mario Rui’s cross from deep and shot on the turn, forcing Alisson to punch clear.
Napoli came quickly out of the blocks in the second half, with Milik forcing a good save from Alisson. The striker collected Insigne’s clever backheel and rifled low from outside the box, but ex-Roma star Alisson got down quickly to parry.
Moments later, a mazy Insigne run and cut back across the face of goal was blazed over by Milik, whilst at the other end Salah was released but was quickly crowded out in the box before he could unleash his shot.
With only 15 minutes remaining, the hosts looked to have finally broken through when Callejon met Koulibaly’s looping cross with a sidefooted volley, but Joe Gomez was on hand to clear off the line.
As the match drew to a close, Liverpool had the woodwork to thank for their point in a heart-stopping moment. A sensational Mario Rui cross left Alisson flailing as substitute Dries Mertens caught the ball on the volley, but could only skew it against the underside of the crossbar.
With moments remaining, Napoli finally broke the deadlock. Callejon drove down the right and rolled a wonderful ball across the face of goal for Insigne to slide in and score.
Lorenzo Insigne may snatch the headlines with his memorable late goal, but further back Allan was in imperious form for the Azzurri. The Brazilian shielded the defence expertly and was on hand to sweep up anything that came his way, as well as acting as an outlet for his teammates to pass to.
Tenacious in the tackle and comfortable in possession, the former Udinese man took the game by the scruff of the neck and prevented Liverpool from finding any rhythm in the middle of the pitch.
Group C blown wide open
It is still early days, but after being handed a particularly tricky group, Napoli can continue their Champions League campaign full of confidence.
An opening day goalless draw against Red Star was far from ideal, but with a double-header against French juggernauts Paris Saint-Germain up next, the Partenopei needed a victory against Liverpool to prevent being left playing catch up at this early stage.
Insigne’s late strike keeps Napoli well on course to be in the mix towards the latter rounds of the group stage, and will no doubt serve as a psychological boost going forward.