Reds edge back on track
Liverpool ended a run of successive defeats in the Premier League, but they did not have it all their own way against Wolves.
Last Updated: 24/09/11 5:59pm
Liverpool ended a run of successive defeats in the Premier League, but they did not have it all their own way in an engrossing 2-1 win over Wolves at Anfield.
Visiting captain Roger Johnson's own-goal and Uruguayan star Luis Suarez's superb solo strike gave Kenny Dalglish's Liverpool a comfortable half-time lead.
But Wolves were unfortunate not to earn a point in the second half after a renewed effort and substitute Steven Fletcher's goal gave their hosts an almighty scare.
For a Suarez-inspired Liverpool, it was important to get back to winning ways after the demoralising defeats to Stoke and Tottenham, while Steven Gerrard returned to Premier League action as a second-half substitute.
Meanwhile, Mick McCarthy's Wolves, who stunned Anfield with a first win in 27 years last season, will feel slightly hard done by after surrendering their four-game unbeaten record on their travels.
Wolves had actually started the brighter, aided by their hosts' penchant for conceding free-kicks outside their own penalty area.
Their best chance fell to Jamie O'Hara when a ill-judged backpass from Jamie Carragher, returning to the side in the absence of the injured Daniel Agger, saw the midfielder shoot weakly at Jose Reina.
A couple of Charlie Adam corners caused some difficulties for the Wolves defence but not as much as the midfielder's 11th minute long-range shot.
Stewart Downing's lay-off saw the Scotland midfielder unleash a 25-yard shot which was diverted past Wayne Hennessey by Johnson's diving header.
Andy Carroll, still the subject of intense debate about his place in the side, should have silenced his critics with a free header from Downing's corner but planted the ball straight at the goalkeeper.
In his favour, however, the England international's performance offered plenty apart from a goal.
But it was Suarez who, once again, was providing the major threat up front with the Wolves centre-backs struggling to contain the Uruguay forward.
Johnson was left bewildered when Suarez brought down Reina's kick and turned the defender inside the penalty area only for his cross to be cut out.
Two further half-chances fell to the South American before he finally got he just desserts in the 38th minute with a goal which owed everything to his movement.
Excellent Liverpool left-back Jose Enrique lifted a ball over the top of the defence and his team-mate timed his run perfectly to collect, turn Christophe Berra inside then out before firing a shot inside the near post.
Just before the break - during which the third biggest cheer of the afternoon greeted news of former Reds striker Fernando Torres' sending-off for Chelsea - Suarez poked another shot just wide of the far post.
But Liverpool's defensive record this season - they have kept only one clean sheet - meant the third goal would be crucial and it fell to Wolves.
Four minutes after coming on for the start of the second half boyhood Reds fan Fletcher smashed home a shot from Stephen Hunt's cut-back after Reina and Martin Skrtel had got in the way of each other trying to clear their lines.
But Wolves almost crumbled in the aftermath as Hennessey produced his most important save of the game to block Suarez's effort at close quarters from Carroll's knockdown.
Carroll headed against a post while Hennessey made yet another vital block to deny Downing, who should have scored after Liverpool broke quickly on the counter-attack.
Wolves recovered their composure and turned the tables with an extended spell of pressure which caused some consternation amid the massed Red ranks and almost saw Berra equalise with a far-post header.
The long-awaited appearance of Gerrard, who made a brief substitute appearance in the Carling Cup in midweek, finally arrived in the 81st minute when the England midfielder replaced Suarez, who had run himself into the ground.
When the ball dropped to the Reds captain 25 yards out he did not need a second invitation to unleash a dipping volley but there was no fairytale Anfield comeback as the ball bounced wide.There were a few worrying moments before the end but Dalglish's side saw them out to get back on the winning track.
|Liverpool||Team Statistics||Wolverhampton Wanderers|
|2||1st Half Goals||0|
|5||Shots on Target||2|
|8||Shots off Target||7|