Virgil van Dijk was immense as Liverpool went through to the knockout stages of the Champions League 1 year ago

Virgil van Dijk was immense as Liverpool went through to the knockout stages of the Champions League

Liverpool have reached the last-16 of the Champions League.

Jurgen Klopp's side went into Tuesday's match against Napoli knowing they needed a win to advance to the knockout stages of the competition, and they didn't disappoint.

Mohamed Salah's first-half goal was enough to see off the Italian side in a surprisingly comfortable game for the Reds - until the final few minutes anyway.

At a raucous Anfield, Liverpool took control of the game early in the first half and should have won by a couple of goals.

Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold provided the width for Klopp's team as they mounted several attacks on the Napoli goal.

Georginio Wijnaldum and James Milner were sharp and aggressive in midfield, winning the ball and springing attacks, and even Jordan Henderson got through the game unscathed.

Roberto Firmino dropped deep to try to link up play and Salah was a threat throughout, making a mockery of suggestions his form has dipped.

However, one Liverpool player stood out above all of his teammates and didn't put a foot wrong - Virgil van Dijk.

The Dutch defender was immense throughout, making several timely clearances and tackles. Van Dijk was on hand to mop up any mistakes his teammates made and stopped Napoli attacks before they could develop.

It was his pass that started the move that led to Salah's goal. He was the foundation for Liverpool's performance and has become indispensable to Klopp's side.

Is there a better central defender in world football at the moment? There certainly isn't a better defender in the Premier League.

Van Dijk is almost unbeatable in the air and over the ground. He can't be pushed off the ball or bullied, a physical colossus who is also an excellent passer that can read the game impeccably.

The Dutchman has brought a level of calmness to Liverpool's previously jittery defence that cannot be underestimated.

Klopp's side never really looked like conceding on Tuesday night and that was mostly because Van Dijk was marshalling the defence.

Van Dijk's yellow card for his challenge on Dries Mertens, when he won the ball but caught the Napoli forward, was the only negative of his whole night. The former Celtic defender will miss the first leg of Liverpool's last-16 tie through suspension.

Otherwise, his performance was flawless. The world's most expensive defender, who joined Liverpool from Southampton in January for £75m, was worth every penny.