Current holders Liverpool beat Wolves at the second time of asking to advance to the 4th round of the FA Cup.
Both teams made 8 changes to their starting XI’s from the weekend, something that Klopp hinted at following their defeat to Brighton. Wolves, on the other hand, were coming off a 1-0 win against struggling West Ham.
Wolves Starting XI: Sa; Castro, Gomes, Collins, Lembikisa; Neves, Hodge; Ait-Nouri, Moutinho, Traore; Jimenez
Liverpool Starting XI: Kelleher; Tsimikas, Gomez, Konate, Milner; Thiago, Bajcetic, Keita; Carvalho, Gakpo, Elliott
The first-half saw Liverpool dominate – both in and out of possession. The press looked much better conducted and the 8 changes made seemed to breathe life back into the side. Wolverhampton couldn’t handle this and gave up possession in their own third on numerous occasions.
After 12 minutes of play, Wolves winger Ait-Nouri broke free down the left flank and got a shot away at goal. Liverpool quickly broke with rapid interplay and sent Harvey Elliott into motion. The young winger ran into acres of green space before unleashing a left-footed shot from 25 yards that looped over the keeper to give Liverpool the lead.
The rest of the half was largely the same – Liverpool on top and Wolves struggling to create, in part down to the excellent press of the forwards but also because of a solid defensive performance from Liverpool.
There weren’t too many highlights in this first half, but another moment of note came in the 35th minute. When Naby Keita played through Fabio Carvalho 1-on-1. Carvalho finished into the bottom left corner, but the goal was ruled out after the linesman raised his flag
The second half saw a tactical tweak from Julen Lopetegui’s men. Wolves had clearly been instructed to play the ball long to evade the Liverpool press. This only added to the scrappy nature in which the game had already taken course.
With fouls going both ways, the match was a very cagey affair in the second half that neither team could truly get a grasp of.
That was until the 70th minute – when Nat Phillips committed a foul at the edge of the box. Ruben Neves stepped up and fired a shot on target, but it was tipped over the bar by Kelleher and then wrongly given as a goal-kick.
Only 8 minutes later, striker Raul Jimenez got his head on the end of a cross by Adama Traore. The ball was blocked by Joe Gomez and went behind for another incorrectly awarded goal-kick.
These decisions only added to the already loud home fans’ grunts of displeasure. But they weren’t the only one with something to say.
In the 86th minute you could hear the travelling Liverpool fans chanting Jurgen Klopp’s name. ‘I’m so glad that Jurgen is a Red’ echoed around the Molineux – a clear indicator that despite the poor results, Jurgen is still championed by the fan base.
With 5 minutes added on, it was down to Liverpool to hold on to their narrow lead. Despite the best efforts of Wolves forward Cunha who headed into Kellehers hands and another ineffective Neves free-kick, the Reds were successful.
Man of the Match
There were top performances across the Liverpool side, especially in defence. Ibrahima Konate and James Milner won their battles almost every time they were required to do so, but my MOTM was Joe Gomez. The English centre-back has been inconsistent in the side for a while, but with van Dijk out, he will need to step up, just as he did tonight. A special mention must be given to goal-scorer Harvey Elliott and the young Stefan Bajcetic who looked right at home at the base of the midfield.