Reds gain a point as Hodgson rests star names

Napoli 0 Liverpool 0

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 as his side claimed a well-earned Europa League draw against Napoli 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 Barclays 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 feet.

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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Ed Miliband and David Cameron are neck and neck in the polls
election 2015Armando Iannucci: on how British politics is broken
News
i100
Life and Style
Great minds like Einstein don't think alike
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power