Aurelio De Laurentiis said "I didn't call anyone" as the Napoli president dismissed speculation that he is poised to sack Carlo Ancelotti amid links to Gennaro Gattuso.

With Napoli winless in eight matches across all competitions, reports in Italy claim the struggling Serie A side have decided to dismiss head coach Ancelotti following the Champions League fixture against Genk on December 10.

Rumours of a dressing-room revolt against Ancelotti have emerged, with former Milan boss Gattuso lined up as his potential replacement, while ex-Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri and Luciano Spalletti have also been touted.

But outspoken owner De Laurentiis – whose Napoli are seventh and 17 points off the pace in Italy's top flight – rejected reports Ancelotti is on the brink.

"My faith in Carlo Ancelotti has never failed," De Laurentiis told Radio Kiss Kiss. "My trust in Ancelotti is total and unconditional, as a man and as a coach. 

"For the future I have decided nothing, it would be a mistake to decide at this moment, we have a season in progress, there is only one way: we must find peace, the team must return to work with serenity. 

"I didn't call anyone, I never called Gattuso and I never heard Spalletti. With Allegri we talk, but not from today. We have been talking since 2013, we have a cordial relationship. In 2013 I called him because I wanted him to become the coach of Naples, at the time he was the coach of Milan. He told me that we would be ready at the end of the season. He called me and gave me his total availability but I am a man of honour and I went to London, I shook hands with Rafa Benitez, so nothing was done. 

"I want to reiterate that my faith in Ancelotti is total, then we could have problems. The problems, perhaps, are in the work methodology, but this methodology allowed Carlo to win everything. He won a lot, he won everywhere. The top players he had, such as Cristiano Ronaldo, they also trained in a personalised way.

"It seems to us that there is a school system, so we must dictate the rule of the methodology. Our coach is Ancelotti, let's continue like this."

Napoli – eight points adrift of the fourth and final Champions League place – travel to Udinese on Saturday.

Real Madrid have made Fabian Ruiz their top transfer target.

According to reports, "negotiations have accelerated" as the Spanish heavyweights aim to take advantage of the disarray at Napoli.

But the midfielder also has high-profile admirers in England and France.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID STEP UP FABIAN INTEREST

Napoli midfielder Fabian is a man in demand.

Madrid appear to be in pole position, with Cadena SER claiming the Spanish giants are "very serious" about taking the 23-year-old to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Negotiations over a contract extension at Napoli are said to have stopped and the Spain international is reportedly warm to the idea of joining up with Zinedine Zidane's side.

However, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain could look to force a three-way bidding war for the Spain international, who has previously been linked to Barcelona.

ROUND-UP

- Ex-Valencia head coach Marcelino has emerged as a left-field managerial candidate for Arsenal and Everton, according to the Daily Mail. The 54-year-old lost his job at the Mestalla in September following a reported falling out with owner Peter Lim.

- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fears he will be sacked if Manchester United lose their next two games against Tottenham and bitter rivals City, says The Sun.

- Former Premier League striker-turned-reporter Jan Aage Fjortoft claims Liverpool are favourites to land Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho – but the winger will cost the Premier League leaders €130million.

- Chelsea have offered little-used striker Olivier Giroud to Serie A sides Milan and Inter, according to CalcioMercato.

Barcelona are keeping tabs on 16-year-old PSG midfielder Edouard Michut, reports Le Parisien.

Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann has been voted 18th in the final list for the 2019 Ballon d'Or, a fall of 15 places from last year.

Griezmann finished behind only Luka Modric and Cristiano Ronaldo 12 months ago after winning the World Cup with France and impressing for Atletico Madrid at club level.

However, an underwhelming end to his Atletico career and a tough start to life at Barcelona - who he joined in a €120million deal in July - has seen him drop down the list.

It marks the second time the 28-year-old has slipped from third to 18th, having done likewise in 2017.

Griezmann's Barcelona team-mate Marc-Andre ter Stegen finished 24th and Frenkie de Jong, who spent the first half of the year with Champions League semi-finalists Ajax, was voted 11th in the standings.

Three Liverpool players missed out on the top 10, with Georginio Wijnaldum, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino in 26th, 19th and 17th, respectively.

Fellow Premier League side Manchester City were also heavily represented in the 30-11 rankings, as were Dutch champions Ajax following their run to the final four of last season's Champions League.

Lionel Messi and Virgil van Dijk are the frontrunners to win the most prestigious individual accolade in world football during Monday's ceremony.

Ballon d'Or 30-11 list in full:

=28. Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain)

=28. Donny van de Beek (Ajax)

=28. Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid)

=26. Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool)

=26. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

=24. Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli)

=24. Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona)

23. Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)

22. Son Heung-min (Tottenham)

=20. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)

=20. Dusan Tadic (Ajax)

19. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)

18. Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona)

17. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)

16. Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

15. Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax)

14. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

13. Eden Hazard (Real Madrid)

12. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)

11. Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona)

Napoli head coach Carlo Ancelotti denied his squad have turned against him after the club's winless streak extended to eight matches.

Sunday's shock 2-1 Serie A loss at home to Bologna left Napoli without a victory in all competitions since October 23.

The pressure is mounting on Ancelotti as Napoli – runners-up last term – languish seventh in Serie A, 17 points behind leaders Inter and eight adrift of the Champions League places.

Napoli's woes come amid internal problems, with owner Aurelio De Laurentiis looking to impose fines on players who deserted a recent training retreat.

Speaking after Bologna attacker Nicola Sansone's 80th-minute goal condemned Napoli to defeat, Ancelotti – who has been linked to Arsenal – told reporters: "The team is against the coach, they say. But it isn't so.

"I have an excellent relationship with the squad. No one has ever failed to respect me. I don't see any friction between the players and us.

"We exchange ideas every day, the situation must be resolved quickly, because we are failing badly."

Napoli, who claimed a 1-1 draw against Champions League holders Liverpool on Wednesday, have lost two and drawn six of their past eight games.

"It's not a problem of tactics, more of an attitude problem," Ancelotti said. "Three days ago we showed great solidity against Liverpool, and we played with three midfielders.

"We have conceded many goals, it's true, we need solidity, but it is the mental aspect that must be improved by taking even a smidgen of responsibility.

"The fans are disappointed and I can only agree with them. I must be more lucid in order to resolve this situation."

Sadio Mane believes winning the Club World Cup could give Liverpool the adrenaline surge they might need to drive home their Premier League title push.

Jurgen Klopp's side will have Flamengo among their trophy rivals in Qatar next month and have complicated their build-up to the FIFA tournament with Wednesday's 1-1 Champions League draw against Napoli.

A win would have made sure of a last-16 place with a game to spare, allowing manager Klopp to possibly rest some stars for the Group E finale at Salzburg.

Instead, Liverpool may need a point to be sure of qualification and a win to seal top spot, making the trip to Austria one with high stakes.

And with holding midfielder Fabinho nursing an ankle injury that could keep him sidelined for a significant period, Liverpool are a key man down.

It remains to be seen whether the Brazil international can return by the time the Club World Cup comes around, but Mane is in no doubt about the potential significance of that competition.

"To win games and win trophies motivates players all the time," the forward said. "Hopefully we're going to win it and give us high energy for us to go again until the end of the season."

Front-runners Liverpool have begun their Premier League campaign with a staggering 12 wins and one draw from their opening 13 fixtures, and they face Brighton and Hove Albion at Anfield on Saturday.

A hectic December awaits, with matches and travel that should test their resources to the limit. Klopp will need to shuffle his line-ups, yet Mane is confident the Reds can overcome the obstacles in their way to make it a successful month.

He said: "We are Liverpool, we have a big squad. We have many players who can play. It's part of football and we have to deal with it. We know it won’t be easy.

"Tiredness is in the head. If the coach needs us, we'll play to help the team."

Mane dismissed any suggestion he threw himself to the ground in an effort to win Liverpool a first-half penalty against Napoli, after he went down when surrounded by defenders.

The appeals for a spot-kick were waved away, much to the hosts' frustrations.

"I think it was a penalty, sure. I wasn't diving like usual!" Mane said, with a chuckle, having been at the centre of subsequently retracted diving accusations from Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola at the start of this month.

Georginio Wijnaldum described the ankle injury sustained by Fabinho against Napoli as "a big blow' for Liverpool but vowed to be the perfect stand-in in a more defensive-midfield role.

The Netherlands international came off the bench to replace Fabinho in Wednesday's Champions League contest at Anfield in an indication he may fill the void despite having played a more advanced role for Jurgen Klopp's side this term.

But Wijnaldum appreciates the likely loss of Fabinho for a number of games, as Liverpool await clarity on the severity of the injury, comes as a serious setback to the reigning European champions and Premier League leaders.

"It's a big blow for the whole team, of course, and for him as a player," he said. 

"It's a situation you've got to deal with. Over the years we've had a few blows with injury and we just have to show that we can deal with the situation."

Fabinho has a crucial holding role to play at the hub of Liverpool's team, and it perhaps goes against Wijnaldum's attacking instincts to occupy that position.

However, he has done so studiously in the past, and when asked about the challenge of taking over from Fabinho, there was a twinkle in the eye of the Dutchman.

"I played there last season. Do you think I'm ready?" he told reporters at Anfield. "We just have to show that it doesn't affect us."

The exit of Fabinho after 18 minutes was swiftly followed by Dries Mertens firing Napoli in front with a terrific finish across goal from a tight angle, his strike so impressive it was hard to fault Alisson.

Dejan Lovren headed an equaliser midway through the second half, but it was not Liverpool's night. Klopp's charges were oddly pedestrian at times, and the 1-1 draw means they head to Salzburg for their final Champions League Group E match on December 10 as leaders, but still probably needing a point to make sure of a last-16 place.

Wijnaldum acknowledged it was a "frustrating" position, given Liverpool knew a win over Napoli would have made sure of their qualification and taken any edge off the Salzburg game.

"Of course you want it to finish early, but this is the situation. It comes to the last game," Wijnaldum said. "There's nothing we can change about it anymore so what we have to do is to deal with this situation and try to get a good result."

There was at least some relief in the Liverpool camp when linchpin defender Virgil van Dijk was able to shake off a blow to the ribs, which came from Mertens in the lead-up to Napoli's goal.

The sight of Van Dijk receiving treatment on the pitch caused anxiety in the stands and on the pitch too.

"Everyone was worried," Wijnaldum said. "I think he is [fine] because he finished the game. With Fabinho it's difficult to say because he went off."

Carlo Ancelotti insisted Napoli are "still alive" after their courageous Champions League performance at Anfield earned praise from the club's demanding owner Aurelio De Laurentiis.

Napoli secured a hard-earned 1-1 draw against Liverpool in the Champions League, taking the lead through Dries Mertens after 21 minutes before conceding a 65th-minute Dejan Lovren leveller on Wednesday.

Amid internal problems at Napoli, head coach Ancelotti told reporters: "I have spoken to the president. He's really pleased. He's thanked the players for their efforts."

De Laurentiis has looked set to impose fines on Napoli's players who deserted a recent training retreat amid a run of disappointing form, and it remains to be seen whether that punishment will proceed.

"We'll have to see over the next couple of days. The president wants to speak with all of the players, so I believe this is a positive sign, absolutely, on everyone's behalf," Ancelotti said.

He added: "I think we're beginning to improve and leave those problems behind.

"We've shown a lot of commitment, hard work and character and personality. I think I've seen that the team's definitely still alive. We could still do better of course, in Serie A in particular."

Napoli sit seventh in Serie A but look like progressing to the last 16 of the Champions League, seeking to avoid defeat in their final Group E game against Genk next month to be sure.

Genk were thrashed 4-1 by Salzburg midweek, and Napoli should have more than enough to fend off the Belgian club back in Naples.

Against Liverpool, Napoli looked defensively sturdy for long stretches and particularly in the first half gave the Champions League holders' backline plenty to do.

Ancelotti said: "I knew we were going to play well, I was convinced against a team like Liverpool. You know you're going to suffer against a team like that, but we know we can create them problems as well.

"So I was certain we'd play well, but just because you play a good game against a team like Liverpool it doesn't mean you get a good result.

"The game wasn't particularly aesthetically pleasing but we were clear-minded, we were solid and our aim wasn't to put in a fantastic performance - our aim was to get through to the next round and we need another point to do that of course."

The veteran coach knows there is light and day between Napoli's performance in Europe and in Serie A.

"It's difficult to put your finger on it; it's difficult to find an explanation," he said. "I think it's perhaps something in the players' minds - a mental thing.

"I think that you need a lot of courage, show a lot of character, personality, show a great mentality. i think this is a team we have where we lose ourselves very quickly but we find ourselves quickly too and that's a good thing."

Jurgen Klopp "could not care less" who would win a boxing match between himself and Carlo Ancelotti, as Liverpool's indifferent record against Napoli continued.

The points were shared in a 1-1 draw at Anfield on Wednesday after neither Liverpool nor Napoli managed to secure progression into the Champions League knockout stages.

Group E will now go down to the wire, with Champions League holders Liverpool, Napoli and Salzburg all still able to progress to the round of 16.

Napoli seem to have proved something of a bogey team for Liverpool in recent meetings, however, and inflicted the Reds' only defeat of the campaign so far back in September.

Klopp has lost three of his Champions League meetings with Ancelotti, his joint-most against an opposing manager along with Arsene Wenger, and conceded he struggles when going head-to-head with the Italian.

However, Liverpool's manager grew frustrated when asked who he thought would come out on top in the ring.

"I couldn't care less who would win a boxing match," Klopp told a news conference midweek. 

"I am a couple of years younger than Carlo. If we were ever in a boxing match I'd hope I would win but I'm not sure.

"Obviously I struggle when I play Napoli so sorry about that. It's more about how good they are. That's how it is.

"Napoli usually play a different kind of football. Tonight they were defending and counter-attacking. It's not easy. When a team with the quality of Napoli chooses such an approach it makes life difficult. They probably would have changed if we had gone 1-0 up.

"Did I expect Napoli to be like this? Probably yes. Carlo is a smart guy. Napoli might not be in their best moment so you set up rather defensively and try to deny the strengths of the opponent and use your skills on the counter-attack. That's what they did for their goal.

"We spoke on the way to the dugout. And then after the game he wished me luck for the rest of the season and I wished him luck."

Liverpool need only to avoid defeat against Salzburg to seal their place in the next round. However, should they lose – and Napoli beat Genk – the defending champions would be at risk of dropping down to the Europa League.

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis hailed the Partenopei's performance against Liverpool, claiming it proved the team's doubters wrong.

Several Napoli players have reportedly been handed heavy fines after they refused to attend a training camp organised by De Laurentiis, and Carlo Ancelotti's side headed into Wednesday's meeting at Anfield without a win in six matches in all competitions.

Although that run was extended to seven games with a 1-1 Champions League draw, De Laurentiis believes there can be no doubting the players' commitment.

Napoli inflicted Liverpool's only defeat since the Community Shield in their opening group-stage match, and now the president has called on the team to show the same levels in every match they play.

"With Ancelotti and this team, we earned two wins and a draw against the [European] champions Liverpool," De Laurentiis tweeted.

"So much for those who try to do us down and say players don't perform because of contracts that haven’t been renewed, let this game be the definitive response.

"Well done to the coach and to our players. Now everyone get their heads down and work hard, try to consider every game coming up as if it was against Liverpool.

"We mustn't talk today about the disciplinary action the club is taking with the players. We'll resolve these matters ourselves without external pressure or influence."

The draw leaves Napoli second, with a win against Genk in their final Group E outing enough to guarantee progression and possibly first place, depending on how Liverpool fare at Salzburg.

A draw against Genk could also be enough for Ancelotti's men.

Imagine turning up to Liverpool with nothing to say. Arriving in this great city of song with barely a chirrup. Well, it didn't take Napoli long to find their voice.

Speaking words of wisdom? Certainly not in the run-up to this game. Having found themselves in times of trouble, Napoli's touchy owner Aurelio De Laurentiis slapped a gag on his team.

Three weeks have passed since a Naples rebellion, when the squad en masse figured that being ordered by De Laurentiis to check in for a week-long isolated retreat at short notice amid a slump in form did not exactly tally with their own plans and did what could be reasonably termed 'a runner'.

Already disheartened, the week in camp was considered less the salve to their sorrow and more a firework detonated over an open wound.

The revolt looks set to cost Napoli's players millions of euros, with the sledgehammer diktat of De Laurentiis decreeing, according to whispers and leaks, that each player will forfeit a quarter of their month's salary. Sky Italia reported some were told only hours before kick-off at Anfield. Further reports say Napoli have fined midfielder Allan and captain Lorenzo Insigne 50 per cent of their November wad.

Forced into their shells, the one player who broke a gagging order on international duty, Eljif Elmas, was carpeted in a terse club statement - called out for spouting positively about the prospects of Carlo Ancelotti's team chasing a top-two Serie A finish. Perhaps De Laurentiis assumed it sarcastic, given seventh-placed Napoli have looked entirely incapable of scaling those heights.

Under apparent duress, Napoli boss Ancelotti obliged the UEFA paymasters with some cursory words in a pre-match press conference, but ostensibly he said nothing. The "all-time great", as Jurgen Klopp described Ancelotti in his programme notes, could not afford to be anything but the puppet of his boss, toeing the party line. One foot out of line and Ancelotti risks being put on permanent retreat.

Maybe, then, this was the night Napoli needed, not quite the Anfield smash-and-grab triumph but a match with a deep sense of occasion where they reminded many, perhaps themselves, of their qualities. It was resilience they were relying on at the end, a 1-1 result rewarding their labour. Wonder what the draw bonus pays…

Napoli supporters, in the absence of meaningful explanations from the club, have wondered who to direct their ire towards: should it be De Laurentiis, Ancelotti, or the players who, whatever else might be happening, have continued to flounder on the pitch, draws with Genoa and a Milan side battling their own crisis of confidence telling a story.

However, Liverpool were ponderous early on and there was no lack of belief on show when Dries Mertens followed a little playground tussling with Virgil van Dijk by sprinting behind the home backline to finish sublimely in the 21st minute, Napoli’s players displayed the delight of a team that actually care, much as their owner may have doubts.

The travelling Neapolitans in the stands, primed to castigate, were instead castling the men in blue and white.

De Laurentiis may be a luminary of modern Italian cinema, a highly prolific producer: his film factory pumps out movies more rapidly than Liverpool used to accumulate trophies, even if some might barely match the heft of a Milk Cup.

But being cast in a drama of his own has seen him tear up the plot and attempt to write one of his own.

Winning at Anfield would have added an unforeseen chapter to this season's chaotic story, and the hyper-animated Klopp, booked before half-time for one gesture of incredulity too many, was on a personal mission to change the flow, own the script.

A telling substitution saw Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain take over from Joe Gomez, with Jordan Henderson dropping to a right wing-back role to allow the former Arsenal man to find pockets of space further forward.

Napoli, thinking they had Liverpool's front three well watched, suddenly had an extra attacker to think about. The giant awoke. And how it roared in the 65th minute when Dejan Lovren's header from James Milner's corner rippled the left corner of Alex Meret's net.

Meret had already dropped one cross at the foot of Roberto Firmino, whose shot was hooked off the line. But as much as Liverpool pressed in the closing minutes, they could not break down the Italians again.

The sight of Andy Robertson steaming into a late challenge showed both sides were up for the scrap. It also showed Liverpool had met their match in a team we thought were in crisis. Appropriately, tonight, Napoli walked through their storm. They rattled the European champions. For the first time in a while, they could hold their heads up high.

Fabinho was left in pain with an injury as Liverpool drew 1-1 at home to Napoli in the Champions League, says manager Jurgen Klopp.

The Brazil international was hurt in the 14th minute at Anfield on Wednesday, needing treatment after he collided with Napoli forward Hirving Lozano.

Fabinho was substituted after initially trying to play on, and Klopp indicated the midfielder will need tests to examine the extent of his injury.

"I don't know. He has pain, so that's not good," Klopp told a news conference. "He couldn't continue, and he is a really hard one.

"I don't want to say what I expect, because I hope that it is not that serious, but we will know more maybe tomorrow, maybe the day after. We will see."

Liverpool missed the chance to secure a place in the next round of the Champions League, coming from behind to earn a 1-1 draw thanks to Dejan Lovren's header.

The Premier League leaders are at home to Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

Five Napoli fans were arrested amid disorder outside Anfield ahead of Wednesday's Champions League game against Liverpool, Merseyside Police confirmed.

A statement from the force said three Napoli supporters were arrested for violent disorder and another for affray, with a fifth arrested for breach of the peace at the turnstiles on Anfield Road.

Earlier in the day, Merseyside Police said a number of flags attached to flag poles were confiscated from supporters following reports fans had been seen carrying golf clubs.

"No golf clubs have been found," said a statement from the force posted to social media.

Last year, Liverpool fan Sean Cox was hospitalised after he was stabbed amid disorder outside Anfield ahead of a Champions League tie against Roma.

Simone Mastrelli pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three and a half years after Cox sustained serious head injuries in the attack.

Jordan Henderson acknowledged Liverpool were frustrated not to "finish the job" in Champions League Group E by beating Napoli on Wednesday.

Liverpool wanted a win at Anfield to clinch their place in the knockout stages with a game to spare, also guaranteeing top spot in the group.

A 1-1 draw was all the Premier League leaders could manage, though, with Dejan Lovren's header cancelling out Dries Mertens' coolly taken opener.

The result leaves Group E firmly in the balance, with Liverpool needing to avoid defeat in their final match against Salzburg to send themselves and Napoli through.

However, a defeat – combined with Napoli beating Genk – would see the Champions League holders drop into the Europa League.

Reds captain Henderson insists Jurgen Klopp's side can still feel full of confidence heading to Salzburg on December 10.

"We'd have liked to have won, of course, to finish the job [qualification for last 16] but Napoli are a good side and we could only get a point," Henderson told BT Sport.

"I think we're still in a decent position, but there's one game left and we need to go and get a win away now.

"Napoli are a good team, good players, we knew it was going to be difficult. There were obviously times when we knew we could have done better, but we played some good stuff in the second half. We were searching for the second but couldn't manage to get it.

"We keep going, we're still in a healthy position but need to get the win away now. Second half, there was only one team going to win the game, if anyone. Unfortunately, we couldn't find a winner.

"We stay confident. We've still got a job to do away but we're confident we can do that."

Napoli's opener came moments after Virgil van Dijk went down with an apparent hip injury, with the defender claiming he had been fouled by Mertens, who subsequently burst clear and drilled a superb finish beyond Alisson.

VAR checked the goal twice - first for a potential foul and then for offside - before allowing it to stand, and Henderson did not look to make any excuses.

"There was a question of a foul, I thought it might have been offside, but it obviously wasn't," he added. 

"It was early in the game, so we had plenty of time to get back and win the game but, unfortunately, we couldn't do it."

Neither Liverpool nor Napoli could secure their place in the last 16 of the Champions League as Jurgen Klopp's side drew 1-1 with their Italian visitors at Anfield.

The Reds – whose only previous defeat in all competitions this season came against Napoli in September – wanted a victory to secure top spot in Group E with a match to spare.

Yet it was Napoli, also wanting a win to ensure their progression, who took the lead thanks to Dries Mertens' composed 21st-minute finish.

Roberto Firmino missed two big chances to equalise, though it was Dejan Lovren who proved the unlikely hero for the Premier League leaders with a towering header as the points were shared in Klopp's 100th European match as a coach.

Liverpool were dealt a blow in the 19th minute, Fabinho unable to continue after sustaining an apparent ankle injury in a collision with Hirving Lozano.

Georginio Wijnaldum replaced his stricken team-mate, but Napoli took full advantage of some disorganised Liverpool defending – Mertens keeping his cool when one-on-one with Alisson after latching onto Giovanni Di Lorenzo's long ball.

VAR checked the legality of Napoli's opener on two counts, first for a potential foul from Mertens on Virgil van Dijk and then for offside, but the goal was allowed to stand.

James Milner was denied by Alex Meret before half-time, though Kalidou Koulibaly had to spare his goalkeeper's blushes when he hooked Firmino's effort off the line.

Though Firmino squandered another fine chance just after the hour, Lovren made no mistake two minutes later as he headed in from Milner's corner.

And though there was no late winner for Liverpool on this occasion, Napoli failed to muster another opening at the other end as their winless run under Carlo Ancelotti was stretched to seven games in all competitions.

 

What does it mean? Group E hanging in the balance

Group E could be the one to watch heading into matchweek six, with Liverpool, Napoli and Salzburg – who hammered Genk and have seven points – all in with a chance of securing a place in the knockout stages.

A draw for Liverpool away at Salzburg will be enough to see the defending champions and Napoli through, though the Reds would be out if they lost and Napoli beat Genk.

Mertens makes his mark

Napoli's forward only has four goals in Serie A so far this season, but already has five in this Champions League campaign, and took his chance in clinical fashion, with the goal coming from one of just two touches Napoli managed in Liverpool's box in the first half.

Fabinho's fitness a cause for concern

Ex-Monaco enforcer Fabinho has become a crucial player in Liverpool's midfield, and Klopp – who received a booking for complaining over a decision going against his side in first-half stoppage time – can only hope the Brazil international's issue will not be serious enough to keep him out for an extended amount of time heading into the festive period.

What's next?

Liverpool host Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League on Saturday, with Napoli facing Bologna in Serie A a day later.

Liverpool were dealt an early blow in Wednesday's Champions League clash with Napoli as they lost Fabinho to an apparent ankle injury.

The former Monaco midfielder has been a key player for Liverpool this season, making 19 appearances across all competitions.

However, Jurgen Klopp's side were dealt a blow when Fabinho sustained a knock in the 14th minute, with the 26-year-old receiving treatment after Hirving Lozano toppled into him as a result of Dejan Lovren's challenge.

Fabinho attempted to play on, but to no avail, with Georginio Wijnaldum replacing him in the 19th minute.

Liverpool's frustration grew two minutes later, Dries Mertens racing in behind to coolly put Napoli ahead.

The Reds also had concerns over Virgil van Dijk, who claimed he had been fouled by Mertens in the build up to Napoli's opener, but the Dutchman carried on.

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