After The Match 


Napoli-Liverpool 0-0           21.10.10                                   EL
Team: Reina, Kelly, Carragher, Skrtel, Konchesky, Poulsen, Spearing, Jovanovic, Shelvey, Babel, Ngog
Subs: Kyrgiakos (Carragher (45), Aurelio (Konchesky 65),
Cole (Babel 77),
Not used: Jones, Wilson, Maxi, Eccleston
Yellow: Skrtel (28)      Pazienza (57)
Red: None
Referee: Thorsten Kinhofer (Germany)
Attendance: 29,000
Shots on target: 2-4
Shots off target: 7-3
Blocked shots: 2-2
Fouls conceded: 9-10
Corners: 6-2
Offsides: 1-5
Possession: 54.2-45.8
Yellow: 1-1

HEADLINES "Our fans deserve great credit for the way they have behaved."
Roy Hodgson
2210: Poulsen hails Reds starlets
2210: Jonjo Shelvey today admitted he is
          hungry for more at Liverpool FC

2210: Dominic King sees the Reds make their point in Naples
2110: Hodgson: I am not resigning and I never will
2110: Roy's Reds pick up a point in Naples 


Poulsen hails Reds starlets

Sky Sports

Christian Poulsen has praised the performance of Liverpool's youngsters against Napoli on Thursday.

The Reds lined up in their latest Europa League encounter with a relatively inexperienced side, with Roy Hodgson keen to rest key men for Premier League duty.

That meant Jonjo Shelvey, Jay Spearing, Martin Kelly and David Ngog were given opportunities to impress, and they fared admirably in a hostile environment.

A 0-0 draw in Naples was enough to keep Liverpool top of Group K, and Danish midfielder Poulsen was delighted with the spirit on show from the Reds.

"Our young players battled well and you couldn't tell there was a lot of inexperience out there," he told the club's official website.

"I think they had a really good game and it shows we have a strong squad at Liverpool.

"Napoli have a lot of good players but I thought we played cleverly, tried to stick to the gameplan and in the second half we had one or two good chances to score.

"It was a good draw, because it was a tactical game away from home and it's very difficult to win there.

"I've played there two or three times in the past (with Juventus) and never come away with a point so we're satisfied with this one, especially as we're still top of the group.

"It's a pretty good result and hopefully we can reach the knockout stages now."

Jonjo Shelvey today admitted he is
hungry for more at Liverpool FC

By Dominic King - Liverpool Echo

Jonjo Shelvey today admitted he is hungry for more as he reflected on his “memorable” first start for Liverpool.

The young midfielder rose to the challenge in Stadio San Paolo last night as he played a key role in the Reds’ 0-0 draw with Napoli.

Liverpool remain top of Group K and are odds-on favourites to qualify for the Europa League’s knockout stages and Shelvey hopes that means he will get to another chance to prove his worth.

He was one of seven changes to the side that had lost 2-0 to Everton last weekend but, showing no fear, Shelvey caught the eye throughout and vindicated Hodgson’s decision to pitch him in.

But while he was thrilled to have helped secure a confidence boosting result, the 18-year-old has made it clear he does not want it to be a one-off experience.

“It’s a hostile place to come and you knew that with the way the crowd were,” said Shelvey. “They were banging on the bus when we were on the way to the stadium.

“So it was very satisfying to get a result. It’s massive for everyone at the club. Personally I’m delighted as I’ve been waiting for my chance to show the Gaffer that I am good enough.

“This is a platform. The next task is to make sure we get three points on Sunday. The Gaffer told us we played well as a team and that we deserved the draw.

“You could tell Napoli are a good team by the way they moved the ball about but we had a game plan and it worked. In many ways, we were unlucky not to win as we had a few good chances.”

Signed from Charlton Athletic in the summer, Shelvey has been around Liverpool’s squad ever since Hodgson came to the club and he revealed the manager has been a constant source of encouragement.

“He told me personally to stay confident and keep doing my best,” said Shelvey. “I want to push on more now and get a few games under my belt. Hopefully I will get another chance soon.

“I’m not really someone who gets nervous and I have got faith in my ability. I know I can do a job and I’m desperate for another go.”

Liverpool’s draw eases some of the pressure that has been building on Hodgson and he insisted after the game that he intends to remain at Anfield “for the long haul”.

That has not stopped speculation mounting and Frank Rijkaard’s agent Perry Overeem has refused to quell the idea that his client, who quit Galatasary this week, would be interested in moving to the Premier League.

Overeem cryptically said: “He will return into football that is for sure. The question is when and where.

“We haven’t been approached by anybody official (at Liverpool) yet and to me the current coach is still working with the support of Liverpool. Let us all wait and see what happens.”

Dominic King sees the Reds
make their point in Naples

Comments by Dominic King at Stadio San Paolo - Liverpool Echo

Just three weeks ago a European stalemate was the precursor for Liverpool's lowest ebb in 57 years; now, perhaps, a similar result might just provide the launchpad for recovery.

Roy Hodgson may have admitted to taking a gamble with Liverpool's present to safeguard the club's future by leaving a number of star names at home but, happily, that gamble, to some extent, paid off last night in Naples – never before has a 0-0 draw been so welcome.

Determined, dogged, disciplined and doughty throughout, the Reds rewarded those supporters who ran a gauntlet of hate to roar their team to a result that keeps them in control of Europa League Group K but, more importantly, has given everyone at Anfield a lift.

Coming on the back of possibly the most stomach-churning defeat to Everton in two decades, it was widely assumed Liverpool – without Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres and Raul Meireles – would collapse like a deck of cards in Stadio San Paolo.

A capacity crowd, a young, enthusiastic team and Hodgson's admission that this was effectively a contest Liverpool could do without led to predictions that Napoli would comfortably add their name to the list of those who have toppled the Reds so far.

Yet, once again, we received a reminder that it is dangerous to make assumptions in football; silencing Napoli's fans and, shushing the doubters, Hodgson, for the moment at least, can feel a sense of satisfaction and relief.

There is nothing clever about the design of this stadium – it is just one cavernous bowl – but it is incredibly atmospheric and, to confirm how a big deal this game was for the locals, it was just over half full 90 minutes before kick-off.

Predictably, Hodgson's makeshift side emerged to a wall of sound when the time came for proceedings to get under way and, for some of the younger members of the travelling party this was clearly going to provide a big test of their credentials and capabilities.

One novice who found himself thrust into centre stage following Hodgson's decision to leave his big guns at home was Jonjo Shelvey; who was one of seven changes to the team that had suffered the ignominy of being brushed to one side at Goodison Park.

Many, if we are honest, expected things to continue in the same vein as against Everton but the opening half hour was relatively stress free for Hodgson, as his players had the best of the possession and frustrated opponents who seemed in awe of their reputation.

With a better touch, Ryan Babel would have galloped clear onto Milan Jovanovic's early through ball while only a desperate sliding tackle from Paolo Cannavaro prevented Shelvey – who was outstanding throughout – from skipping on to another pass from the Serbian international.

So puzzling. Here were Hodgson's men dealing with the biggest test they have faced in the past month with the minimum of fuss, keeping their shape and holding a solid line and not batting an eyelid as the volume in the stands was ratcheted up.

Christian Poulsen – a figure of derision since his arrival from Juventus – controlled the tempo, taking possession, giving it simply, while flying into tackles and interceptions; Jovanovic and Babel, meanwhile, constantly looked to cause menace from the flanks.

The longer the game went on, the more you got the impression that Napoli's reputation did not have great substance and Pepe Reina had arguably his quietest 45 minutes of the season in the opening period, as the home side struggled to deal with the occasion.

Then again, he had Paul Konchesky to thank for the fact Liverpool went into the break all square, the left-back kicking Marek Hamsik's shot off the line after Edinson Cavani's cross-cum-shot had squirmed through a penalty area melee.

It would have been exceptionally harsh on Liverpool had the fallen behind at that juncture and, as he strode back to the sanctuary of the away dressing room, Hodgson's thoughts would surely have been taken with the fact the contest was there for the winning.

His players, evidently, felt the same way. Poulsen's first act on re-emerging was to clap his hands repeatedly together, imploring those around him to believe in themselves and to be brave in their pursuit of a result to change the atmosphere surrounding the club.

Perhaps it was due to the fact he was playing against familiar opponents at a familiar ground but it was impossible to dispute that this was Poulsen's most effective match to date in a Red shirt, a performance which showed why Hodgson was so keen to sign him.

While the rat-a-tat-tat pace of the domestic game might leave the Denmark international's head in a spin at the moment, this run out will have gone some way to restoring confidence levels that must surely have plummeted of late.

But couldn't you say the same about the team? Watching Liverpool for much of this campaign has been torturous, a harrowing experience seeing the team in Red stumble from one catastrophic result to another.

Here, however, was them battling gamely to restore a sense of pride and had Babel a ounce more conviction when Jovanovic – another who could say he finally showed a glimpse of his real form – put him through, Liverpool should have taken the lead on 70 minutes.

Those sentiments were repeated shortly after when the ball fell to David Ngog but, frustratingly, he could not get his shot away quick enough to pass Salvatore Aronica, who made a block to keep Napoli in the game.

No matter. A late goal would have been the icing on this cake but at least Liverpool travelled back home in the early hours content that they had rediscovered their fighting spirit – now it would be helpful if they followed up by dismantling Blackburn. Time to push on.

Hodgson: I am not
resigning and I never will

By David Maddock - Daily Mirror

Liverpool relieved the pressure on their under-fire boss Roy Hodgson with a battling display in Naples last night.

And after watching with pride a committed performance from his young side to take an important Europa League point against Napoli, the Reds manager show fight of his own by insisting he would never consider quitting.

Hodgson has been swamped with rumours that he will walk out of Anfield because of the intense pressure produced by a poor start to the season, which has seen Liverpool slump into the bottom three.

There have even been suggestions that top Dutch coach Frank Rijkaard has been lined up as a replacement should the experienced coach decide he has had enough.

But Hodgson showed the same fight as his team when he emphatically dismissed suggestions he would quit, when he said:

"I have heard the ridiculous rumours about me resigning, and I can tell you there is not an iota of truth in any of them.

"The simple truth is that I have never considered resigning, and I never will."

Liverpool maintained their unbeaten run in Europe this season with a confident display, even though the absence of rested stars like Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres meant he fielded a youthful, inexperienced team.

Teenager Jonjo Shelvey made his first start for the club and impressed, and Hodgson insisted that his team showed the fight that suggests they are far from dead and buried despite their lowly league position.

And the Reds manager also argued that his side will now go into Sunday's must-win showdown with Blackburn at the weekend with the required confidence.

"We have shown tonight that we are far from dead as club coming here and doing this," he said.

"We have been going through a very bad passage. Things have not been going our way for a variety of reasons. We find ourselves at the bottom and we have to get away from there as quickly as possible.

"We have to feel we can start things going we can get things right and Sunday offers the perfect opportunity to do this. "I know the players will be chomping at the bit ready to run and fight and give everything and I hope we get that little bit of luck to get the result that helps us kick on.

"The good thing is that I haven't prejudiced that game by requiring players to play three games in a week, which could have compromise the intensity we will require for that game. We will go into it in much better shape now."

Hodgson was also at pains last night to praise the 1,000 strong travelling group of Liverpool fans, who were subjected to some horrific violence from Napoli ultras.

Six fans were hospitalised, and many were attacked with iron bars, baseball bats and even clubs with nails, and the Reds boss said:

"I was aware what was happening and I was concerned for our fans. The supporters have been fantastic - they knew they were coming to a potentially dangerous situation and all I can say how grateful we are for their support, and sympathetic we are and concerned at reports that several of them got attacked.

"We hope the reports are right that we have not had any serious injuries, and we hope everyone goes home safe and well. We don't want violence on the pitch or off and it and certainly not situations where supporters are getting injured before the game.

"Our fans deserve great credit for the way they have behaved. I find it faintly amusing when I should be forced before the game to defend Liverpool supporters against Italian journalists accusing them of drunken behaviour, when our peaceful supporters find themselves in hospital after being attacked by Italian fans".

Hodgson has been under intense pressure in the past fortnight, with embarrassing defeats at the hands of Blacpool and Everton adding to the speculation about his position.

That was heightened this week when Rijkaard, the former manager of Barcelona, was sacked by Galatasaray, leading to fresh speculation that he could replace the current Liverpool boss.

Yesterday, Rijkaard's agent Perry Overeem did little to cool that speculation when he made clear his client's interest in any vacant position at Anfield.

"Frank will return into football that is for sure. The question is when and where and that will not be answered now," Overeem said.

"It was only on Wednesday that the situation changed at Galatasaray and we are working on making sure that everything is sorted out there.

"We haven't been approached by anybody official (at Liverpool) yet and to me the current coach is still working with the support of Liverpool. Let us all wait and see what happens."

Hodgson knew his massive gamble last night would have backfired spectacularly had Liverpool lost in Naples, piling even more pressure on the result in Sunday's visit to Anfield of Blackburn.

But the control and confidence his young side showed against Napoli, even without Gerrard and Torres, will at least give him hope that he can produce the victory now required to ease the intense pressure that has been hanging over him.

Roy's Reds pick up
a point in Naples


Liverpool remain unbeaten in Europa League Group K after digging deep to earn a deserved 0-0 draw with hosts Napoli on Thursday night.

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson's gamble in leaving at home a handful of his senior players - including Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard - paid off in some respect in the Stadio San Paolo.

Many tipped the hopelessly out-of-form Reds for defeat after bringing a weakened side to Naples, but they withstood long spells of pressure to leave with a point.

The closest they came to conceding was in first-half added time when Paul Konchesky cleared Marek Hamsik's shot off the line in the nick of time, while Ryan Babel could have snatched victory with 20 minutes to go but shot too close to goalkeeper Morgan de Sanctis.

Hodgson had admitted in his pre-match press conference that the Premier League had to take priority because of their woeful start to the season, with just one win in eight games leaving them 19th in the table, and that was why he had rested Torres, Gerrard, Raul Meireles and Lucas Leiva.

He said if they lost in Naples he would expect to receive criticism. He avoided the former but it is unlikely the latter will dissipate any time soon as even a win over Blackburn on Sunday will probably not end the growing murmurings of discontent within Anfield.

At least this performance, unlike the Merseyside derby defeat last weekend, showed some grit and determination and keeps Liverpool on course for progress to the knockout phase as they have taken five points from their three group matches so far, and still have home games against Utrecht and Napoli.

It is a competition which has so far been much kinder to Hodgson but, unfortunately for him, if he cannot turn around the team's domestic form, no number of good performances in Europe are going to ease the pressure on him.

Getting to the latter stages of the Europa League but still being stuck in the lower reaches of the Premier League is unlikely to carry much weight with new owners New England Sports Ventures, who expect to see more from their £300million investment.

After the previous night's attacks on fans and some limited patches of trouble prior to kick-off, the atmosphere inside the stadium was equally as daunting for the players as the streets of Naples had been for supporters.

However, the visitors did a good job of negating all that early fervour with a disciplined, solid start and the whistles which greeted any spell of Liverpool possession were deafening.

Ezequiel Lavezzi's corner saw Cristian Maggio divert the ball goalwards only for Edinson Cavani to head it away as he tried to get a decisive touch.

Napoli were starting to take control but Lavezzi's long-range strike flew well over Jose Reina's crossbar.

In the 33rd minute Jonjo Shelvey combined with Jay Spearing but the shot with his weaker left foot was straight at goalkeeper De Sanctis.

He was obviously not short of confidence as he tried to lob De Sanctis from the halfway line but hardly extended the goalkeeper let alone tested him.

But they had a lucky escape in first-half stoppage time with a controversial incident which will again bring up the issue of goal-line technology.

Maggio's corner fell to Cavani who beat Jamie Carragher and fired in a low cross which Hamsik diverted goalwards and it was unclear whether the ball had crossed the line before Konchesky cleared.

Carragher was replaced for the second half by Sotirios Kyrgiakos as Napoli seized the initiative again.

Cavani wasted a good chance before Michele Pazienza was booked for a wild lunge which caught Spearing in the face as he stooped to head the ball and, after initial concerns about the midfielder, he was able to continue after treatment.

Napoli continued to press but Babel should have snatched the lead with the best chance of the night when he was played through by Jovanovic in acres of space on the left of the penalty area.

The Holland international opted to shoot right-footed across De Sanctis but placed his effort too close to the goalkeeper, who saved with his left foot.

Ngog also went close when he turned in the area only for his shot to be charged down by Salvatore Aronica.

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Thor Zakariassen ©