Liverpool 2-0 Wolves: Van Dijk and Mo Salah find the back of the net
Liverpool 2-0 Wolves: Virgil van Dijk and Mo Salah both net in the second-half to move Reds up to sixth and keep their top four hopes alive
- Liverpool beat Wolves 2-0 in their Premier League clash on Wednesday evening
- Virgil van Dijk opened the scoring for Liverpool in the 73rd minute of the game
- Salah added to their advantage by finding the back of the net in the 77th minute
A right shoulder and a right thigh. They may not be enough to turn around this season for Liverpool but they turned around this game and for now that feels like more than enough.
With 17 minutes remaining at a rather resigned feeling Anfield, Liverpool did not look winning this game. Darwin Nunez had just seen a goal ruled out by VAR and as Manchester United rallied down the road at Old Trafford, Sunday’s meeting here with the old enemy on was starting to feel like one of those behind the sofa occasions fpr the home support.
But when Trent Alexander-Arnold delivered a free-kick from the left in the 73rd minute, Virgil van Dijk rose to meet it. The defender missed the ball with his head but it cannoned off his shoulder towards goal. Jose Sa saved but when Diogo Jota returned the ball, Van Dijk headed in conventionally and his team were in the lead.
With Liverpool and their supporters buoyed, Jurgen Klopp’s team came again down the left four minutes later. This time left back Kostas Tsimikas crossed and Mo Salah diverted the ball in quite intentionally with the fleshy part of his right leg.
It doesn’t matter how they go in and certainly it didn’t here. With Liverpool’s season threatening to dissolve after last week’s Real Madrid humbling and the league draw at Crystal Palace that followed games like this one have to be won if Liverpool are to retain any hopes of climbing up to fourth place.
Liverpool beat Wolves 2-0 in their Premier League clash on Wednesday evening
Virgil van Dijk (right) opened the scoring for Liverpool in the 73rd minute of the game
Salah added to their advantage by finding the back of the net in the 77th minute of the game
It shows how far Liverpool’s aspirations have narrowed this season that they cheered Arsenal’s half-time lead over Everton when it was read out at the interval.
These days it matters less that the league leaders are winning and more that the local rivals are not. For Klopp and his players, fourth place is the height of their ambition this season and they remain outsiders even for that
Here Liverpool threatened early on but then pretty soon so did Wolves. That is pretty much the way it goes these days. If it is to change, they need to find a way to control games again. Here, for 45 minutes at least, it was another bits and pieces performance. Some good, some bad and far too much just totally indifferent.
Young midfielder Stefan Bajcetic — a ray of light in the Anfield gloom — had a shot on the turn from a Salah cross in just the third minute. Had it been directed towards either corner it may well have gone in. Instead Wolves goalkeeper Jose Sa stooped to gather comfortably.
Then it was Wolves’ turn. Improved under their new coach Julen Lopetegui, they are a more confident side, too. Twice early on they threatened as space in the Liverpool penalty box at the Kop end allowed Joao Moutinho to work Alisson in the Liverpool goal and then, from the corner, a Raul Jimenez overhead kick landed on the head of Pablo Sarabia but his effort from six yards did not benefit from sound contact and then ball flew wide.
Darwin Nunez did score for Liverpool in the 65th minute of the game but it was disallowed
Wolves started the game well but they struggled to perform in the second half of the game
Craig Dawson was a standout performer for Wolves on Tuesday and made several key tackles
This, then, was Liverpool in a nutshell. Ambitious but vulnerable. Capable but also flawed.
For a while, nothing much more happened. Liverpool’s low confidence was palpable while the home crowd seemed, as heinous as it sounds to say, rather too used to it all. Anfield really was very quiet for long periods.
Improvement did arrive in the first half and on the back of it Liverpool could and should have scored.
Fabinho was breaking up play well in central areas — Liverpool will need some of that on Sunday — and when he did so just before half-time, Diogo Jota was able to play Nunez to the left byline. When his cross landed on Harvey Elliott’s head he should have scored but he didn’t, heading wide from 10 yards.
That was a big chance and Elliott almost made up for a few minutes later. This time the opportunity was much harder, Nunez chesting a Alexander-Arnold cross down to him 18 yards out. The first time shot was crisp but so was the save from Sa low at his left-hand post. From the ensuing corner, Nunez headed over.
That flurry of activity did not transpire to be portentous in terms of what followed. Apart from a long range shot from Alexander-Arnold that was blocked and another Elliott shot gathered by Sa, this remained a sterile affair until Nunez’s disallowed goal in the 66th minute.
Liverpool youngster Stefan Bajcetic (right) was awarded a yellow card during the game
Liverpool XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Elliott, Fabinho, Bajcetic; Salah, Nunez, Jota.
Substitutes: Kelleher, Milner, Firmino, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gakpo, Robertson, Carvalho, Matip.
Wolves XI: Sa; Semedo, Dawson, Kilman, Bueno; Lemina, Neves; Sarabia, Moutinho, Nunes; Jimenez.
Substitutes: Bentley, Ait-Nouri, Collins, Podence, Neto, Jonny, Costa, Gomes, Traore.
Jota’s run from deep was direct and forceful and Nunez’s finish was adept once the ball broke. But VAR were right to refer referee Anthony Taylor to the screen for a check on Jota’s collision with Max Kilman and Taylor was right to subsequently scrub out the goal for a foul.
Fabinho was a little lucky to still be on the field by this time. The contact his foot made with the thigh of an opponent early in the second half may have been accidental but the yellow card he received was the least he deserved nevertheless.
On Liverpool ploughed, more in hope than expectation. But finally they broke through with just over quarter of an hour left. Van Dijk’s first effort actually came off his right shoulder but it still required a save from Sa and when Jota scrambled to the rebound his hooked cross back across goal was headed in altogether more firmly by the captain for the night.
Wolves had not carried a threat in the second half and soon their night was done. Tsimikas played a nice give and go down the left and his cross was perfect for Salah to convert his 20th goal of Liverpool’s season.
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