Virgil van Dijk urged Liverpool to remember "how good we are" as the Reds look to bounce back from a disappointing defeat at Nottingham Forest when they travel to Ajax on Wednesday.

Jurgen Klopp's side recorded back-to-back Premier League wins over West Ham and the in-form Manchester City, but fell to a surprise 1-0 defeat at strugglers Forest on Saturday.

The narrow loss, in which Liverpool spurned numerous chances, summarised what has been an underwhelming season thus far for the Reds, who are eighth in the league and 12 points behind leaders Arsenal.

However, Liverpool could still secure Champions League knockout football with a game to spare if they avoid defeat at Ajax, with Van Dijk issuing a reminder to his team-mates over their qualities.

"What the manager said after the game, we only had ourselves to blame, we had the chances to score and another day they will go in," the Netherlands international said. 

"It was a very intense and difficult week, with a fantastic win against City and a difficult one against West Ham. Then an away game, early kick-off against Forest, who were struggling before our game.

"We tried everything but we didn't win; we know our performances, in general, have to be as consistent as they were [in previous seasons], that's what we are trying to do.

"We are trying to sort it and do everything in our power, that's what we have to do, so that's our situation. We shouldn't forget how good we are, keep the confidence and try to be consistent again."

While Alfred Schreuder's side dropped five points in two matches either side of the last international break, they have returned to form in recent weeks to open a four-point lead at the Eredivisie summit.

Van Dijk acknowledged the tough task that awaits Liverpool, who have won their last three Champions League matches against Ajax, as his side prepare to visit Amsterdam.

"They don't have the best moment also, but I know how it can be here on a Champions League night and that is something we are prepared for," the centre-back added.

"We have to match them and do even more – it will be interesting. We're not coming here to defend or draw, we want to win the game, show our qualities and make sure we go through tomorrow.

"They will know how tough it will be, we have to be confident and enjoy the occasion. Everyone wants to be at this level."

Virgil van Dijk has been on the receiving end of Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp's ire "plenty of times".

The Reds defender made the admission when speaking to Gary Neville on The Overlap about Klopp's demeanour in the Anfield dressing room.

Van Dijk and Liverpool have had a difficult start to the season, which included a shock 1-0 loss at Nottingham Forest on Saturday to leave them eighth in the Premier League.

But Van Dijk has been one of Liverpool's top performers since joining from Southampton in January 2018, winning Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and EFL Cup honours under Klopp.

The Netherlands centre-back does not always avoid his manager's dressing downs, though.

"Oh yeah plenty of times," Van Dijk replied when asked if he had been shouted at by Klopp.

"Not in my face because I feel like screaming in someone's face could be a little disrespectful but when it's needed he will definitely do it, but he shouts a lot.

"The thing is and what I like is that someone does that because someone really cares about you or the situation and wants to make sure it improves or get anyone else sharper. 

"So, I really enjoy that in a way and it helps me personally."

Van Dijk recalled Liverpool's poor performance in the season-opener against Fulham, a match that finished 2-2, and how he deliberately ignored Klopp knowing a telling off was coming.

"I was trying to go more direct and he was shouting at me that we had to play a little bit more," Van Dijk added.

"I know he was shouting from the side so I wasn't looking at him or trying to acknowledge him because I knew for a fact that he was going to go after me. It is what it is."

Jurgen Klopp said Liverpool's defeat at Nottingham Forest was inexplicable as he condemned the finishing by his players at the City Ground.

After back-to-back 1-0 wins over Manchester City and West Ham in the Premier League, Liverpool went down by the same scoreline on Saturday, with former Anfield reserve Taiwo Awoniyi getting the only goal.

Klopp pointed the finger of blame at Roberto Firmino and Virgil van Dijk for spurning great chances, as the Merseyside club lost to a team who began the day at the foot of the table.

A third league loss in their opening 11 games was a jolt for a Liverpool team who had been looking to close an early-season gap to the top four.

"The performance I can kind of explain, the result not," Klopp told BT Sport. "I never saw a game where one team has four or five no-brainers from a set-piece, where we have to finish it off.

"The way they defend, we were perfectly prepared for that. We had always a free player: Bobby in the first half, Virgil two or three times – they have to put the game to bed."

Forest's goal also came from a free-kick, with Awoniyi firing in from close range after Liverpool gave away the set-piece near the halfway line, described as "a big mistake" from his players by Klopp.

"Apart from that, all the chances they had we gave them, because we kept playing the wrong passes in the centre," Klopp said.

"Result-wise, we should have showed consistency today. Result-wise, we could have had it by finishing the situations off."

Regarding Forest, Klopp was frugal in his appreciation, saying: "Giving a team six clear-cut chances after a set-piece, I am not sure where I should put the praise on.

"They're a great team and Steve [Cooper] is a fantastic manager, but for us we had to win here. We didn't, so credit to him and Nottingham.

"In the situations, it was us against the goalie or us against ourselves, and not us against Nottingham Forest, because nobody defended Bobby in these moments and nobody defended Virgil in these moments.

"They were just free, but we didn't use it, so if we used all of them you would be asking a different question."

Match-winner Awonyi revelled in giving Forest a second league win of the campaign.

He said: "I think it's a good game for my team. We had a plan to play compact and at the end to find a way to get a goal. At the end we won and I'm very happy about it.

"I'm honoured to get a game against Liverpool because they brought me to football. They signed me when I was 18. It was an emotional game for me. As a team we stick together as our own family, and we have to thank the fans. We just have to keep on going."

Man of the match Ryan Yates, a key figure in Forest's midfield, said: "It's what we needed. We've been putting in good performances in recent weeks and not been getting the results we wanted, but we thoroughly deserved that today.

"It's got to be [a turning point]. We've got to build on this. If we can beat Liverpool, we can beat anyone."

Mohamed Salah insisted Liverpool's win against Manchester City does not mean they are back in the title race, despite a hard-fought victory over the Premier League champions at Anfield on Sunday.

The Egyptian scored the only goal of a typically fast-paced encounter between the two rivals, racing on to a long pass from Alisson before slotting past Ederson with 14 minutes remaining.

The loss was City's first in the league this season, but was also just Liverpool's third win from nine league outings, and Jurgen Klopp's men remain down in eighth place, 14 points behind leaders Arsenal and 10 behind City and Tottenham with a game in hand.

Salah said he and his team-mates are still "far away" from the top, but will try to get themselves back into it over time.

"No, we are still far away from [the title race]," he told Sky Sports. "We just need to focus on each game and take it one at a time, we don't have to think about the title at the moment.

"Of course, personally I always love to play for a title and in my head we are going to fight for it… we don't have to feel pressure because there is still a gap to first and second.

"You can see everybody here [is] unbelievable, and we should be in a better position than we are. The players are excited to win again and I think that will give us a good push for the next games."

Virgil van Dijk and the rest of the Liverpool backline did a solid job of keeping Erling Haaland quiet, with the Norwegian still getting off six shots but being denied by Reds stopper Alisson.

"It takes a lot to get three points [against City]," the Dutchman told Sky Sports. "It was always going to be very intense."

The Anfield crowd was at its best as the home fans roared Liverpool on to victory, and Van Dijk acknowledged their contribution.

"It's always like that [the atmosphere] and when certain moments happened in the game it added fuel to the fire," he said.

"It started with the hard work we put on the pitch, and that’s the minimum that’s expected here at this beautiful football club.

"That's what we gave, and the energy we had back today [from the fans] was definitely needed in order to push us forward and keep hold of the 1-0 advantage.

"They played a big part and that's what we need for the rest of the season, especially after a difficult start."

The outoome of Liverpool's clash with Manchester City is likely to hinge on how Virgil van Dijk copes with "absolute phenomenon" Erling Haaland, according to Gary Neville.

City trail Premier League leaders Arsenal by a point ahead of their trip to Anfield on Sunday, while Liverpool are 13 points further back, seemingly out of title contention already.

Pep Guardiola's men are the only unbeaten side in the Premier League, thanks in no small part to the extraordinary exploits of Haaland.

Having only played nine games in the top flight, Haaland has already broken the records for most goals (15) and goal involvements (18) in a player's first 10 appearances in the competition. 

A trip to Merseyside will see Norway striker face arguably his toughest opponent yet in Van Dijk, and Neville is excited by the prospect of their duel.

"I still think, no matter what form Liverpool are in and where they are, Sunday will still feel like the toughest game they [City] are going to face," Neville told Sky Sports.

"Look, at the end of the day you know what I feel about those two clubs, but on Sunday you can't help but think of Haaland against Van Dijk.

"You just can't stop thinking about how that's going to play out. The best centre-back in the world for the last three or four years, who has struggled a little bit more this season. 

"But he's against this absolute phenomenon. That Liverpool back line, which pushes up with space in behind… I'm fascinated by that, I can't wait for it, to be honest."

Liverpool are winless in their last five Premier League meetings with the champions (D3 L2) – they have never previously gone six without a victory against City in the league.

Virgil van Dijk admits Liverpool's "confidence is creeping away" after making their worst start to a Premier League campaign in a decade.

Liverpool's 3-2 loss to Arsenal in Sunday's contest at Emirates Stadium leaves them with 10 points from eight games – their lowest return since the 2012-12 season (nine).

The Reds have conceded 16 goals across their past 12 league matches and kept just two clean sheets, while conceding the opening goal of the game on 10 occasions.

And centre-back Van Dijk, who has come in for criticism for his performances this campaign, accepts a lack of belief is playing a part in Liverpool's disappointing run of form.

"Confidence is definitely a thing that plays a part. We're all human beings," he told Sky Sports.

"Sometimes you need a bit of confidence in certain moments. If it's not as high, it won't help in certain situations.

"Every human being needs confidence to perform at the highest level. If you're not winning, confidence is creeping away.

"We know we can turn it around but we have to work hard. That's the only thing to do and the only way forward as well."

Liverpool twice drew level in their enthralling contest with Arsenal, only for Bukayo Saka to claim victory for the home side with a 76th-minute penalty.

The spot-kick was awarded after Thiago Alcantara was adjudged to have fouled Gabriel Jesus, but Van Dijk does not believe it should have been given.

"Obviously it was a very tough game for both sides. We had good moments, we had bad moments," he said.

"Then it got decided by a penalty that from my point of view wasn't a penalty. But it goes so quick, I haven't looked in slow motion. 

"Unfortunately we couldn't get the points to bring with us back to Liverpool."

Liverpool are 10th in the table, 14 points adrift of pacesetters Arsenal with a game in hand, after failing to win any of their opening four league games for the first time in 12 years.

In contrast to their opponents' slow start, Arsenal have won at least eight of their first nine league games for only the fourth time in their history.

"We know they're in the best moment of their lives," Van Dijk added. "They've had a great season and we knew it was always going to be tough.

"But I think we had good moments and created good chances at times. It's hard to lose it by a penalty in my opinion, but it's the case, so we have to deal with that."

Liverpool switch focus back to the Champions League on Wednesday with a trip to Rangers, before hosting Manchester City on their return to league action next weekend.

Arsenal are hugely impressed with William Saliba, but Mikel Arteta has stayed away from comparing the youngster to Virgil van Dijk.

Saliba has been fantastic for Arsenal this season, after finally getting his chance following loan spells at Saint-Etienne, Nice and Marseille.

The 21-year-old signed for Arsenal from Saint-Etienne back in 2019, but spent the next season back on loan at the French club.

However, Arteta did not call on the centre-back in the 2020-21 season, and Saliba subsequently left for Nice before spending last season on loan at Marseille.

This time around Arsenal kept hold of Saliba despite Marseille's interest and have been rewarded by some superb displays, with the France international starting all eight Premier League matches.

His form has seen him compared with Liverpool defender Van Dijk, though ahead of the meeting between the Gunners and the Reds, Arteta urged Saliba to "make his own career."

The Arsenal manager told reporters: "I think the way he has established himself, the composure and leadership that he's shown on the pitch – it's done in a very natural way without any flashlights, just being himself.

"Being very quiet but at the same time, very confident."

On the Van Dijk comparisons, Arteta said: "Wow, that's a big call. We're very happy with where he is at the moment.

"He's Saliba: he's no one else, and he needs to make his own career."

How do Saliba and Van Dijk stack up?

Arteta may have strayed away from comparing the players, but the data throws up some interesting head-to-head records.

While Van Dijk has struggled to hit his best form in an underperforming Liverpool team, Saliba has helped Arsenal keep three clean sheets this season, which ranks him joint-top in terms of defenders in the Premier League.

He has made 12 headed clearances, one more than Van Dijk, though both are way behind the league-leading defender in that regard (Joachim Andersen - 36). Saliba has also made 25 clearances to Van Dijk's 23.

Despite Van Dijk's struggles, he nevertheless boasts a better tackle success rate (60 per cent to 46.2) and duel success rate (72.1 to 56.3) than Saliba, while the Netherlands international has also won 25 of hs 32 aerial duels, compared to Saliba succeeding in eight of his 17.

Saliba's ability on the ball has also drawn comparisons to Van Dijk. He is able to find his team-mates with long passes, though Arteta's preferred style of play means Saliba has only attempted 32 long passes in the league.

An impressive 22 (69 per cent) of these have been successful, which betters the success rate managed by Van Dijk, who has landed 38 of his 69 long passes (55.1 per cent).

Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk has leapt to the defence of team-mate Trent Alexander-Arnold amid recent criticism of the right-back's performances.

Alexander-Arnold has been the subject of plenty of scrutiny following his poor defensive performances in the Premier League and Champions League. 

The defender's mistakes in Liverpool's 3-3 draw with Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday, in particular, drew heavy criticism from fans and pundits. 

The 23-year-old also failed to feature in either of England's two Nations League games last week, with Gareth Southgate making it clear Alexander-Arnold is not his first-choice right-back.

But van Dijk, speaking after Liverpool's 2-0 win against Rangers on Tuesday in which Alexander-Arnold opened the scoring with a stunning free-kick, said: "We know the quality he has and he showed it again today.

"He has been showing it over the last couple of years; he has developed as one of the best right-backs in the country."

Netherlands international Van Dijk also questioned the culture surrounding player welfare and media scrutiny in English football.

He said: "I've been in the UK now for eight, nine years and everyone here is very good to praise a player very high up to the sky and let them fall as hard as they can.

"That's what we, as players, have to deal with. Everyone is talking about how we should accept it.

"For him to just carry on working – not only him but other players as well – deal with it and show reaction today is what we need, all of us. I think it's important that we back him."

Liverpool's victory against Rangers leaves them second in Group A behind Napoli, who beat Jurgen Klopp's men 4-1 in the opening group game. 

Darwin Nunez will "score a lot of goals and show his talent" despite a tough start to his Liverpool career, says ex-Reds midfielder Mohamed Sissoko.

Striker signing Nunez, who scored on his Premier League debut against Fulham, has failed to add to his tally following a three-match ban for a red card against Crystal Palace in August.

But Sissoko – a Liverpool player for three years under Rafael Benitez – is confident the Uruguay forward simply needs time to adapt.

"It's not easy to play in the Premier League. It's a big difference between the Portuguese league and the Premier League," Sissoko told Stats Perform.

"If Liverpool spent a lot of money for this player, it's because he has quality. I'm sure he's going to score a lot of goals and show his talent, because he has talent."

Liverpool are down in eighth place in the Premier League after a disappointing start to the season in which they dropped points against Fulham, Palace, Manchester United and Everton.

And Nunez is not the only player to have struggled, with fellow forward Mohamed Salah criticised in scoring only twice in six league matches.

But Sissoko feels Salah's team-mates are as much to blame, adding: "It depends on the team also. When you play well, when you score, you make lots of good things, it depends on the team, not one player.

"The team has to play well, and after Mo Salah is going to show his talent."

With a tough run of fixtures ahead and with only two clean sheets so far, Liverpool will also need to improve defensively if they are to climb the table. 

When asked about Liverpool's back line and recent scrutiny of Virgil van Dijk, Sissoko said: "He's still one of the best defenders in Europe.

"[Just] because he's not playing well in one game or three games, you can't say he's a poor player. He has quality.

"He's captain of the Netherlands national team, he plays for Liverpool, and he's shown everyone he's a good player. He's a leader also. 

"Sometimes in football, [things] happen. Sometimes you play well, sometimes you play not good, but I'm sure after the international break all the team is going to win and [take] Liverpool higher."

The Netherlands booked their place in the Nations League Finals as Virgil van Dijk's second-half header sealed a 1-0 win over Belgium on Sunday.

Victory over Poland on Thursday meant the Oranje only needed to avoid a heavy defeat to their neighbours at the Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam to seal top spot in Group A4.

Belgium never looked like they had the firepower to pull off such a result, with Liverpool defender Van Dijk securing three points for the hosts by scoring in the 73rd minute.

The result meant the Netherlands topped their group with 16 points, with Roberto Martinez's Red Devils six points behind in second.

Belgium looked bright in the early stages, with Eden Hazard blazing over from a promising position and Michy Batshuayi firing at Remko Pasveer after being played in by Kevin De Bruyne.

At the other end, Denzel Dumfries cracked wide from 12 yards after fine work down the left from Vincent Janssen, which was the closest the hosts came in a first half that saw them fail to have an attempt on target.

Dumfries again went close at the start of the second period, while Belgium's Amadou Onana was denied by a smart stop from Pasveer shortly after the hour mark. 

Steven Bergwijn powered a shot straight at Thibaut Courtois as the Netherlands cranked up the pressure, before Van Dijk handed the hosts victory with a close-range header from Cody Gakpo's corner.

Courtois did well to deny Davy Klaassen and Bergwijn in the closing stages, while Belgium substitute Dodi Lukebakio struck the post with a sensational overhead kick with almost the last kick of the game.

Virgil van Dijk acknowledges he has not performed to the best of his ability during a frustrating start to the season for Liverpool.  

Liverpool have taken just nine points from their first six matches of the Premier League season, their worst return since Jurgen Klopp took charge in 2015.

Postponements following the death of Queen Elizabeth II mean Liverpool have not played a domestic game since September 3, though they clinched a much-needed Champions League victory over Ajax last time out.

While Van Dijk has been an ever-present for the Reds this season, he has not always lived up to his reputation as steady defensive influence, most notably in a 4-1 thrashing at Napoli.

Speaking after the Netherlands posted a 2-0 Nations League win over Poland on Thursday, Van Dijk admitted he has been disappointed with his own displays.

"I know I could have done better in the beginning of the season. I'm not naive about that. I know very well when I make mistakes," Van Dijk said.

"I also know that I am one of the important players at the club and of course also here at the national team. I feel that responsibility.

"Mentally it's a challenge. You feel a lot of pressure on your head. A lot of people forget that too, it's not easy to do that. 

"We all try to show our best and if, in my case, you are one of the mainstays at the club, then you get the criticism you deserve. You have to deal with that and that is not always easy. But I did that just fine."

The Netherlands conclude their Nations League campaign against Belgium on Sunday, with Louis van Gaal's team needing to avoid defeat if they are to secure top spot in Group A4.

Virgil van Dijk took a swipe at Liverpool's critics after a vital Champions League win over Ajax lifted spirits at Anfield.

Captaining Jurgen Klopp's team on Tuesday, Van Dijk saw his fellow centre-back Joel Matip head home from a corner in the 89th minute to earn three priceless points for last season's runners-up.

Mohamed Salah had earlier broken his seven-game barren streak in the competition by firing Liverpool ahead, before a fine goal from Mohammed Kudus brought Ajax level.

The atmosphere inside the stadium was electric as Matip's goal was awarded, after Dusan Tadic's attempted clearance came from behind the line.

It meant Liverpool cast aside the misery of last week's 4-1 defeat to Napoli, and Dutchman Van Dijk said it should serve to remind players-turned-pundits of the team's great strengths.

Van Dijk told BT Sport: "Coming back from the horror show in Naples, it was very important for us to show a positive reaction, and it's not easy to turn it around, but this is a step to the right direction.

"It was very important to win today and get the good feeling going into the international break."

Asked about the key to turning around the team's fortunes, Van Dijk said: "Not listening to the outside world, that's the most important thing.

"It's funny sometimes, because there's a lot of ex-football players and they know exactly what we go through. They say a lot of things to try to get us down.

"We know that last week was unacceptable, it was very bad, and we tried to make it right. This is a step to the right direction. Don't get carried away of course, because we play so many games."

Van Dijk had a team-high four goal attempts and said: "I should have scored. We felt like we were dangerous at every set-piece, especially the corners, so it was our responsibility to at least convert one, and luckily the one and only Joel Matip did it."

Matip now has 10 goals across all competitions for Liverpool, and the team have nine wins and a draw from the 10 games in which he has found the net.

"I had a few opportunities before and I was happy that I could score," said former Schalke defender Matip. "I wasn't sure [it would be awarded], to be honest, but when I saw the referee then my emotions came out.

"It was a long and tough game, we tried over 90 minutes to create chances and were pushing forward, the whole team."

Manager Jurgen Klopp enjoyed the moment, with Liverpool playing between blank weekends, their latest Premier League games having been called off amid national mourning over the death of Queen Elizabeth II and a subsequent squeeze on police resources.

"I think everyone could see we understood we had to put a completely different shift into the game," Klopp said.

"We played a lot of good stuff against a really hard-fighting and good opponent. We should have scored more goals from set-pieces especially, I don't know how these balls didn't go in."

He was more than happy for it to be Matip, rather than a striker, coming up with the late heroics.

"I'm not picky in that sense," Klopp said. "It was a nice celebration and showed everything the boys thought today. Nothing is over, negative or positive, it is a first step and a very important step for us."

Virgil van Dijk says Liverpool must stick together to end their poor form after their underwhelming start to the season continued with a 4-1 Champions League defeat at Napoli.    A return of nine points from their first six Premier League games puts Liverpool some way off the pace set by Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham, and their woes were deepened on a chastening trip to Italy on Wednesday.   A Piotr Zielinski brace, as well as goals from Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa and Giovanni Simeone, condemned the Reds to the joint-heaviest defeat in their Champions League history.    Not since Arsenal against Inter in 2003-04 (a 3-0 loss) has an English team started a Champions League campaign with a three-goal reverse, while Liverpool conceded three first-half goals in the competition for the first time since October 2014 (v Real Madrid).   Despite enduring a torrid outing that saw him give away a first-half penalty, Van Dijk expressed his confidence in the Reds' ability to bounce back.   "We're not in the best shape, the best situation, but we're going to make this right – that's the confidence I have," he told the club's website.   "We need each other, we need to stick together – not only us as players but the whole club.    "Obviously we've been through it all and that's the message. Obviously we're all human beings, we want to try to perform as good as we can. Sometimes you can have a bad patch and at the moment we're in it. But I'm confident we can get out of this and enjoy our football again.

"Stick together, don't point fingers. Everyone knows that everyone can do better. What I said, we're not robots, we're trying to perform and you can have bad moments. 

"It's how you deal with them and now we'll definitely have a good look at what happened, speak with each other and focus on the game ahead of us. 

"It's good for us that there's a game quite quickly after this and hopefully [we] get a great performance and result."

Liverpool host Wolves in their next Premier League outing on Saturday, before resuming their continental campaign against Ajax on Tuesday.

Van Dijk knows the importance of getting their Champions League group-stage campaign back on track as quickly as possible, adding: "It can change, definitely. 

"There's so many games still to play but you wanted to have a good start. The situation is how it is. 

"Next game in the Champions League will be Ajax at home and we need the fans, we need a good performance from us. 

"It starts obviously on Saturday with a good opportunity against a good side as well, so we'll give everything. What I said, the key is to be together. We need everyone. 

"If you start blaming others and don't look at yourself or create negativity around the club, then you're not getting out of this. I'm fully confident that we'll turn this around together."

Wednesday's demoralising reverse means Liverpool have lost on all three of their trips to Napoli under Jurgen Klopp, the most they've travelled to a particular side without avoiding defeat during his tenure.

Piotr Zielinski struck twice and assisted another as Liverpool's poor start to the season continued with a humbling 4-1 defeat at Napoli in their Champions League opener.

Jurgen Klopp's side have underwhelmed in their first six Premier League games, winning just twice, and were behind after only five minutes in Naples following Zielinski's penalty.

Alisson denied Victor Osimhen's spot-kick just 13 minutes later, but Napoli were 3-0 up at half-time after strikes from Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa and Giovanni Simeone, the latter on his Champions League debut.

Zielinski finished past Alisson again after the interval before Luiz Diaz responded with a bending effort – a mere consolation goal for Liverpool in the Group A encounter.

Osimhen rounded Alisson before striking the post with just a minute played, but Napoli were soon ahead after James Milner handled Zielinski's effort inside the area.

Zielinski found the bottom-left corner from the resulting penalty and another spot-kick arrived soon after when VAR sent referee Carlos del Cerro Grande to check a Virgil van Dijk foul on Osimhen, who was then denied by Alisson diving to his right.

Van Dijk cleared off the line with the goal gaping for Khvicha Kvaratskhelia but Napoli doubled their lead when Zielinski teed up Anguissa, who fired under the onrushing Alisson.

Alex Meret tipped away a goal-bound Van Dijk header before Simeone, on for the injured Osimhen, turned Kvaratskhelia's driven cross into an empty net on the stroke of half-time.

Zielinski doubled his account just two minutes after the break, dinking over Alisson on the rebound following Simeone's pass, before Diaz curled into the bottom-right corner after Andy Robertson's offload.

Meret pushed a powerful Diaz header over from Trent Alexander-Arnold's cross but Liverpool were unable to recover after a toothless first-half showing.

What does it mean? Liverpool's group-stage run ends as Napoli struggles continue

Liverpool cruised to six wins from as many group-stage games in last year's competition but their attempts to become the first English side to win seven straight such matches ended abruptly.

The Reds have conceded the first goal in five games in all competitions this season, the joint-most of any Premier League side, and were never going to recover after finding themselves three down at half-time in the Champions League for just a fourth time.

Liverpool's third Champions League defeat at Napoli in the last five seasons leaves Group A wide open after the first matchday, in which Ajax smashed Rangers 4-0 in Wednesday's other game.

Kvaratskhelia leaves Trent spinning

Klopp heaped praise on Luciano Spalletti's "interesting project" before the clash and pinpointed Zielinski as the main threat – and the midfielder responded with two goals and an assist.

But Kvaratskhelia should also take the plaudits after regularly tormenting Alexander-Arnold, creating a team-high three chances – one of those the assist for Simeone's goal – before his 57th-minute removal.

Van Dijk dives in

Van Dijk epitomises Klopp's revolution at Liverpool, with his calmness and authority in defence characterising the dominant Reds, but his performances have left much to be desired in recent weeks.

The centre-back fouled Osimhen for the second spot-kick, the second penalty he has conceded in his last seven appearances for the Reds. He had previously not given one away in 150 games in all competitions.

What's next?

Liverpool will aim to recover when they return to Premier League action at home to Wolves on Saturday, while Napoli host Spezia in Serie A on the same day.

Frank Lampard questioned why Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk avoided a red card in Saturday's Merseyside derby after the Dutch defender's late tackle on Amadou Onana.

The centre-back went into referee Anthony Taylor's book for the 76th-minute challenge, when Van Dijk got his timing all wrong and caught Onana just above the ankle.

A gripping match finished goalless, but a red card at that stage of the game could have lifted hosts Everton for the closing minutes.

Manager Lampard could not understand why Taylor was not called to look at the incident again by the video assistant referee.

He said: "If you look at the moment he connects with Amadou's shin and Amadou's foot is on the ground… I'm surprised it hasn't gone to VAR and the referee hasn't been asked to make what I think was the correct decision.

"For me, that was a red card and that changes the face of the last part of the game. The ref and the VAR get that one wrong, in my opinion."

Everton were indebted to the brilliance of their goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford, who pulled off eight saves to keep out Liverpool.

That was the most saves the England international has made when keeping a clean sheet in a Premier League game, with crunch interventions to deny Darwin Nunez, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Fabinho standing out.

Lampard hailed his shot-stopper, saying: "Jordan gets fingertips on a few bits that a lot of keepers don't get: pushes the one from Nunez on the bar, the one from Mo Salah at the end.

"Alisson was the same, they're two top goalkeepers. We've relied on Jordan a lot since I've been here. He's an amazing goalkeeper. I'm so fortunate to have a player of his level to pull off saves like that."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.