Diogo Jota scored the only goal of the game against his former club as Liverpool beat Wolves by one goal to nil despite a solid performance.
The Portuguese struck right at the end of the first staff after an impressive first half from the home side. Despite causing problems for the Liverpool backline Wolves couldn’t find the breakthrough and fell to their first defeat in eight matches.
Wolves came into the match having a nine-day break after the draw at Aston Villa and having a point to prove, Liverpool found themselves very much in the same situation with results drying up and struggles in front of goal.
Wolves were also boosted by the return of Willy Boly, who has been a vital key for the side’s success in recent years.
To many Wolves fans’ surprise the home side started the game with the forward initiative. Within a few minutes they caused Alisson issues as he fumbled a cross and took out Nelson Semedo in an attempt to get the ball. Despite some serious penalty shouts they were waved away – the first of many questionable refereeing decisions.
Four minutes in Wolves broke through again with Adama Traore as Liverpool looked stretched. He played Semedo in on the outside right but his shot was saved by Alisson. The momentum continued for Wolves as Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves put in brilliant displays to break up possession and get Wolves on the attack.
The defensive line was a key difference as Wolves were able to play with a higher line of engagement from the wingers and Neves was able to find the ball higher up the pitch to dictate attacks. Moutinho was a constant treat on the ball, using flicks and quick passes to keep Wolves on the move. The pressure was telling for Wolves as they had several chances to counter with three on twos, but their final product was less than impressive as they either overhit crosses or misplaced the final ball.
They should’ve taken the lead when a cross dropped for Neves, but his shot from 12 yards flew across goal from the right hand side. There were warning signs as Liverpool were dangerous on the counter attack, Sadio Mane should’ve put Liverpool ahead when he was played in clear on goal, but after he rounded Rui Patricio he lost control of the ball and Wolves were able to get men back.
He also missed a header from 12 yards after a brilliant cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold, but on the whole the home side nullified Liverpool’s threat to a couple of chances.
Liverpool were cut frustrated figures, and the midfield of Thiago and Fabinho had their fair share of cynical fouls with the former taking three poor challenges to be booked.
Wolves almost took the lead again as another ball was scrambled forward, as Willian Jose tried to volley it in it was cleared away at the last moment – it just wasn’t happening for them.
The breakthrough happened against the run of play as Diogo Jota fired a shot from 14 yards at Patricio’s near post, despite the goalkeeper getting a hand to it, it squirmed under him and into the net. It was a real sucker punch after all of Wolves’ efforts but the side went into half time behind and full of positives for the second half.
The second half certainly didn’t carry as much of the pace of the first but Wolves still continued to be the dominant force. They came inches away from scoring again as Conor Coady headed just over the bar after Romain Saiss had put in a peach of a ball.
They then had their second penalty shout of the game when Joao Moutinho was pulled to the ground by Alexander-Arnold, on replays in looked fairly soft but we have seen those given plenty of times this season.
Wolves then brought on Fabio Silva to try and change the game, and his energy added something different to Wolves’ attack. He almost set up an equaliser with a brilliant backheel flick to fellow substitute Morgan Gibbs-White to set him through but he was caught and the danger was snubbed out.
Wolves have had their fair share of injury woes this season and that trend continued as Mohammed Salah scored on 88 minutes, only for the goal to be disallowed for offside. Soon after the goal the team knew something wasn’t right as Patricio was still on the ground. On replays it showed he’d collided with Coady and injured his head with a possible concussion. With the injury to Raul Jimenez fresh in their minds they decided to stretcher Patricio off and John Ruddy came on in his place – not ideal circumstances for the number two.
Nuno said after the game that he was conscious and okay, which was a huge collective sigh of relief for the fans and the players.
In the 10 minutes of added time Wolves could’ve scored again when a deflected cross fell for Fabio Silva, but he could only make a connection with his shoulder and it went into the arms of Alisson yet again.
Man of the Match – Ruben Neves
Anyone could’ve got this to be honest, but I was particularly Impressed with Ruben – as has been the case often this season. Some of the passes he was pulling off were marvelous and he was crucial to our play in transition. He won the ball back constantly and offered a forward threat with runs into the box. A very solid performance.
All thoughts about the result were null and void after the injury to Rui, and we all wish him the best and a speedy recovery. Having said that, in terms of a performance this was far better. We were dominant in large spells of the match and were very unfortunate not to come away with three points. We do need to be more effective in the final third as this does feel like a wasted chance to get one over on Liverpool – the only ‘big 6’ team Wolves are yet to beat since their return to the Premier League. There are plenty of positives to take so this should be an encouraging performance.