Digital Football Journalist
Report and free highlights as Raul Jimenez gives Wolves hope before Firmino winner
Last Updated: 23/01/20 11:24pm
Roberto Firmino’s 84th-minute winner earned Liverpool a nervy 2-1 win at Wolves and extended their unbeaten Premier League run to 40 games.
Firmino’s goal, six minutes from time, settled a tough encounter for the Reds, who struggled to deal with a strong second-half performance from the home side, but are now 16 points clear at the top of the Premier League with a game in hand.
Jurgen Klopp’s side led inside eight minutes when Jordan Henderson met Trent Alexander-Arnold’s corner with a bullet header, but Wolves deservedly levelled six minutes after the break when Raul Jimenez nodded in Adama Traore’s cross.
Two strong Alisson saves kept Liverpool on level terms while Mohamed Salah and Firmino passed up good chances at the other end, before the Brazilian produced an excellent finish to secure a 14th straight win.
Wolves: Patricio (7), Saiss (6), Dendoncker (6), Coady (6), Doherty (5), Jonny (6), Moutinho (7), Neves (6), Neto (7), Traore (8), Jimenez (7).
Subs: Jota (5), Gibbs-White (n/a).
Liverpool: Alisson (7), Robertson (5), Alexander-Arnold (6), Van Dijk (7), Gomez (6), Henderson (8), Oxlade-Chamberlain (7), Wijnaldum (6), Mane (6), Salah (6), Firmino (7).
Subs: Minamino (6), Fabinho (7), Origi (n/a).
Man of the match: Adama Traore
How Liverpool made it 40 unbeaten
Wolves have shown since their Premier League return they are more than capable of beating the top teams, and although their home record against the traditional top six this season did not appear out of the ordinary, they had run Liverpool close at Anfield only a few weeks ago.
They started brightly with their still unusual formation disrupting Liverpool’s flow in the opening minutes, only to shoot themselves in the foot by conceding from a corner for the fifth time this season, allowing Henderson to ghost in and meet Alexander-Arnold’s corner with a header which went in via his shoulder at the near post.
They were offered instant redemption when a corner of their own was only partially dealt with and when returned to the area, Matt Doherty somehow planted a free header well wide with the goal at his mercy.
The sight of Sadio Mane calling for a substitution with barely half an hour on the clock was enough to leave Klopp concerned for his second-top scorer, but Liverpool went on to end the half strongly with Salah guilty of some selfish attacking play when he went for goal with substitute Takumi Minamino well-placed to double the lead.
Both Wolves and Liverpool were unchanged from their previous games, both wins, but the hosts welcomed back Willy Boly to the bench for the first time since September.
Traore’s first action of the second period was almost to gift Liverpool a second when he was caught in possession by Salah on the edge of his own box only for the Egyptian’s shot to be parried away by Rui Patricio.
But Traore made up for his error when he received a pass down the wing from Jimenez after a weak challenge from Robertson, and took full advantage by picking out his Mexican forward partner in the middle, and he left Alisson with no chance with a fine header after drifting between Joe Gomez and Alexander-Arnold.
Wolves’ tails were firmly up now, and Traore was in full flow. Robertson was booked for a rash challenge trying to stop him getting into the area, but could not stop him ghosting in minutes later to pull a full-length save out of Alisson. Traore turned provider from Wolves’ next attack, threading a lovely reverse pass into Jimenez, who hit the goalkeeper in the face from a tight angle.
Liverpool slowly wrestled back the control they had enjoyed earlier in the game; Salah was again a little greedy in shooting just wide from the edge of the box when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was in a fine position to shoot, and with 10 minutes to go Firmino looked certain to score but was denied by a brilliant sprawling stop from Patricio.
He would make no mistake from his next chance. Quick feet from Salah teed up Henderson on the edge of the area, and his quick thinking found Firmino in half a yard of space. He took a touch to set himself before smashing the ball into the top corner beyond a helpless Patricio for his 10th goal of the season – all away from Anfield.
Wolves should have ended the Reds’ three-month winning run when Jimenez turned Traore’s right-wing cross into Diogo Jota, who blazed over from inside the six-yard area, but Liverpool were left with few worries about any feelings of injustice as they continued their march to their first Premier League title.
What the managers said…
Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo: “I think it was a good performance and a very good game of football. A fantastic game of football, I would say, in a beautiful stadium with our fans behind the team.
“We played good. We were organised, we had momentum second half, we were always there. We had a lot of situations and we keep on going. Sometimes it is small details [but] it cannot change the truth. We played good. This is what we want.”
Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp: “We knew before it would be a tough game. Everybody said it. Wolves are doing so unbelievably well. They are so different to everything else we face during the year. How Nuno sets it up is just… it’s really good. We scored a wonderful goal from a set-piece but not the second and not the third so that means everything is open and it gets intense.
“The goal they scored, we were 1-0 up and it’s a counter-attack. That doesn’t make much sense. We don’t go for perfection. We go for the perfect reaction so we fight back in difficult situations in the game. That is what the boys did. We won the game which is unbelievable. It was a worldie from Bobby. A super, super goal. I am really, really pleased.”
Man of the match – Adama Traore
Traore’s transformation this season was perhaps best summed up with his performance against Liverpool, where he picked up an assist, came close to a goal and put in a number of quality crosses – the kind of deliveries Alexander-Arnold and Robertson would have been proud of.
He drew more fouls than anyone else on the pitch and gave Robertson a torrid time, with the Liverpool man clearly rattled after half-time and earning a booking for a rash challenge on him.
“He is pretty much unplayable,” Klopp said after the game. “I have said it a couple of times and it’s still true. He is not only a winger anymore. He now keeps the ball, holds the ball and sets up goals obviously.
“That makes it so difficult when you defend. Each ball you lose it’s 100 per cent a counter-attack and half a goal.”
- Liverpool have amassed 67 points from a possible 69 in the Premier League this season (P23 W22 D1 L0); this is at least five more than any side in English top-flight history has ever previously had after as many games of a campaign (assuming three points for a win all-time).
- Raul Jimenez’s goal for Wolves ended a run of 725 minutes without conceding a Premier League goal for Liverpool since Richarlison scored for Everton at Anfield exactly 50 days ago.
- Since the start of last season, Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold has assisted 22 Premier League goals, at least five more than any other player, with 10 of those coming from dead balls, also a league-high.
Wolves travel to Manchester United on February 1, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 5pm; Kick-off at 5.30pm. Liverpool travel to Shrewsbury in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday at 5pm.
Super 6: Magic of the Cup?
FREE TO PLAY: Do not miss your chance to land the Super 6 jackpot for the sixth time this season in Saturday’s FA Cup round.
Source : Sky Sports