UCL Update: Defeat for Liverpool, Chelsea on Opening Day
Dries Mertens and Fernando Llorente struck late to earn Napoli a 2-0 win at home to holders Liverpool in the first game of the Reds’ Champions League defence.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men won the corresponding fixture last term with Mertens’ spot-kick and Llorente’s injury-time goal enough to ensure history was repeated in the Group E clash at the Stadio San Paolo on Tuesday.
Andy Robertson was deemed to have tripped Jose Callejon in the box and, after VAR ratified the penalty decision, Mertens squeezed his penalty past Adrian in the 82nd minute.
Liverpool rode their luck in reaching the knockout rounds in 2018-19 and Jurgen Klopp’s men will again have to bounce back from an away loss to Napoli this year after Llorente’s first goal for the club sealed all three points.
Ross Barkley missed a late penalty as Chelsea’s Champions League campaign under Frank Lampard began with a 1-0 loss to Valencia in Group H.
Valencia’s off-the-field issues have overshadowed their on-field exploits since Marcelino’s sacking last week, but Albert Celades’ side bounced back from their 5-2 defeat to Barcelona with a resilient performance at Stamford Bridge.
With Jasper Cillessen in fine form and Mason Mount’s injury having compounded Chelsea’s frustrations, the Blues’ frailties were exposed once more when Rodrigo Moreno prodded in Dani Parejo’s free-kick with16 minutes remaining.
VAR came to Chelsea’s rescue when the referee decided to award the hosts a spot-kick for a Daniel Wass handball, but substitute Barkley – who overruled Willian to take the penalty – struck the bar.