Champions League

Alisson splurge pays dividend as Liverpool reach last 16

2018-12-12 14:28
Alisson Becker
Alisson Becker (Getty Images)

Liverpool - Liverpool were saved the ignominy of an early Champions League elimination against Napoli by the slimmest of margins, as the huge money invested in goalkeeper Alisson Becker came good in a tense 1-0 win over the Italians.

The Brazilian number one rushed from his goal and spread his 6ft 3in (1.91 metre) frame to bravely block from Arkadiusz Milik deep into stoppage time. The save also preserved his 12th clean sheet in 22 appearances since Liverpool splashed a then world record £67 million fee on a goalkeeper in July.

"If I knew Alisson was this good - I would have paid double," said a beaming Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, clearly relieved to have escaped the group stages despite losing all three away games to group winners Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli and Red Star Belgrade.

Tied on points and head-to-head record with Napoli, Liverpool only progressed because they totalled more goals in their six group games.

"The save Ali made (was) unbelievable. It was of course a lifesaver tonight," added Klopp.

Liverpool's latest European night of joy at Anfield was saved because the club reacted to one to forget back in May.

Two huge errors from Loris Karius in last season's 3-1 Champions League final defeat to Spanish giants Real Madrid proved the final straw for Klopp and his superiors when it came to skimping on goalkeepers.

Emboldened by the success of spending a world record £75 million for a defender on Virgil van Dijk in January from Southampton, and by Mohamed Salah's 44-goal debut season after his high-priced signing from Roma, Liverpool again poached one of the Italian club's marquee players in Alisson.

All three played a huge part on Tuesday. Salah scored the only goal of the game. After being fortunate to escape with just a yellow card for an early lunge on Dries Mertens, Van Dijk brilliantly marshalled the defence to give Napoli barely a sniff until Alisson's late intervention.

"He's been fantastic for Liverpool and for us," said Van Dijk on Alisson's impact.

"He's a great character, a great guy and he helps us all. He gives confidence to everyone. That's how it is and how it should be as well, for the whole team."

Guilty parties

Liverpool shone at the other end of the pitch as they reached the final last season, with Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino each scoring 10 Champions League goals.

The Egyptian is starting to show signs of his old form. He followed his hat-trick at Bournemouth on Saturday with a stunning solo run and finish on Tuesday, but he was also among the guilty parties as Liverpool spurned a host of second-half chances that could have proved costly.

Mane was even more wayward, firing off target twice in the closing minutes with just David Ospina to beat.

"That Ali needs to make the fantastic save is something that wasn't really necessary if we'd scored all the goals," added Van Dijk.

Liverpool, the five-time European champions, have a history of going far in this competition despite starting slowly.

Steven Gerrard's thunderous strike four minutes from time in their final group game against Olympiakos in the 2004 inspired an unlikely run to win the Champions League the following May with a far inferior squad to the one at Klopp's disposal.

After finishing second in the group, Liverpool face the potential of a tough last 16 draw against the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus or Bayern Munich.

But with Alisson as their last line of defence, Klopp's men will remain confident of another deep run to the latter stages come the new year.


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Tuesday, 12 February 2019
Manchester United v PSG, Old Trafford 22:00
Roma v Porto, Stadio Olimpico 22:00
Wednesday, 13 February 2019
Ajax v Real Madrid, Johan Cruijff ArenA 22:00
Tottenham Hotspur v Borussia Dortmund, Wembley Stadium 22:00
Tuesday, 19 February 2019
Liverpool v Bayern Munchen, Anfield 22:00
Olympique Lyonnais v Barcelona, Groupama Stadium 22:00
Wednesday, 20 February 2019
Atletico Madrid v Juventus, Estadio Wanda Metropolitano 22:00
Schalke 04 v Manchester City, Veltins-Arena 22:00
Tuesday, 05 March 2019
Real Madrid v Ajax, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu 22:00
Borussia Dortmund v Tottenham Hotspur, Signal-Iduna-Park 22:00
Wednesday, 06 March 2019
Porto v Roma, Estadio Do Dragao 22:00
PSG v Manchester United, Parc des Princes 22:00
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team

Which English Premier League club will progress furthest in this season's Champions League?

Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...


The 2018/19 Absa Premiership season is in full swing. Will Mamelodi Sundowns retain their title? Or can one of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Wits, SuperSport United - or another team perhaps - snatch glory from the Brazilians? Be sure to visit Sport24 for all the latest news!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.