Roberto Firmino snatched victory for Liverpool in the dying stages of the game against a brilliant Wolves side on Thursday night to put the Reds 16 points clear at the top of the table.
Despite a nervy start by Liverpool, with Wolves having a lot of success down the left-hand side, it was the visitors who opened proceedings through Jordan Henderson in the opening eight minutes. Trent Alexander-Arnold provided the assist from an out-swinging corner, meeting the head of the unmarked midfielder in Wolves’ six yard box.
The hosts continued to probe, and Matt Doherty spurned a fantastic opportunity to level the score a couple of minutes later after being found by Rúben Neves in the box, his header glancing agonisingly wide of Alisson’s goal.
Mohamed Salah was unable to make the most of the few chances he had in the first half, creating space by cutting in from the right-hand side, and the mercurial Egyptian would have at least doubled his side’s lead if not for some stoic defending from the Wolves back line.
Wolves tested the resolve their opponents and drew level in the opening five minutes of the second half though, when Traoré chipped a sublime floating cross into the box for Raul Jiménez to power home with his head. Traoré even had an opportunity to put his side in front in the 65th minute, but was denied by a smart save from Alisson.
Both sides continued to press forward and Liverpool got their reward in the dying moments of the game courtesy of a clinical finish from Roberto Firmino after some neat footwork from Salah.
Key Talking Point
?Wolves’ game plan was clear to see from the outset as Adama Traoré was instructed to pin Liverpool’s back line close to their box, and it worked tremendously. The bulky winger was effective and extremely difficult to dispossess, often drawing the attention of several Liverpool players at a time to create space for his teammates.
Nuno Espírito Santo is an expert at playing to his side’s strengths and did so effectively against Liverpool. The home side looked dangerous every time they ventured forward and had a firm hold on the second half of the game.
Wolves will feel aggrieved not to have come away with at least a point against a Liverpool side who were not at the races for large parts of the game.
Starting XI: Rui Patrício (6); Dendoncker (6), Coady (7), Saïss (6); Doherty (7), Moutinho (6), Neves (6), Otto (6); Neto (7), Jiménez (7), Traoré (9*).
Substitutes: Jota (5), Gibbs-White (N/A).
Fast, dynamic, direct. Traoré had a fantastic night against Liverpool and their back line as the 23-year-old pinned both full-backs deep within their own half, stopping any chance of a counter.
The skilful winger grasped every opportunity to run at Liverpool’s defenders and continued to show signs of improvement following his bright start to the 2019/20 campaign.
Traoré was unstoppable throughout the game, and the Liverpool players were unable to contain the pace of the winger. Even some the most obstinate of Liverpool fans were left pondering the idea him in a red shirt.
The former ?Barcelona graduate capped off a fine performance with an assist for Wolves’ equaliser after one of his trademark runs down Liverpool’s left-hand side.
Key Talking Point
?Liverpool have a superb knack of winning games after scoring the first goal.
As a matter of fact, the Reds haven’t squandered a lead since April 2018, which is a testament to Jürgen Klopp’s incredible game management. It’s also, to be fair, probably something to do with the fact they’ve only lost two Premier League games in that time.
Liverpool struggled to contain the advances of Wolves throughout the second half, and paid for their failure to grasp control of the game when the visitors equalised early on in the second half.
However, a late winner from the Reds’ number nine was enough to snatch all three points at the death, recording their 40th successive unbeaten game and their 22nd win in 23 Premier League games this season.
Starting XI: Alisson (7*); Alexander-Arnold (5), Gomez (6), Van Dijk (6), Robertson (5); Oxlade-Chamberlain (5), Henderson (6), Wijnaldum (6); Salah (6), Firmino (7), Mané (4).
Substitutes: Minamino (5), Fabinho (N/A), Origi (N/A).
Although he did not have an outstanding game, Alisson made a number of vital stops to keep his side in the game and was worthy of being Liverpool’s man of the match.
The Brazilian shot-stopper prevented the home side from running away with the game in the second half after a number of fine saves to deny Traoré and Raul Jiménez.
Roberto Firmino gets an honourable mention, but his influence ebbed and flowed throughout the 90 minutes.
?Following this defeat, Wolves travel to Old Trafford to take on an out-of-sorts ?Manchester United side before welcoming ?Leicester City to Molineux two weeks later.
Meanwhile, Liverpool travel to unfamiliar territory in the form of New Meadow to face Shrewsbury in the fourth round of the FA Cup before returning to ?Premier League action against ?West Ham at the London Stadium.