Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Liverpool. Premier League.
Report and free match highlights as Joel Matip's own goal, Craig Dawson's strike and a Ruben Neves effort earn Wolves an emphatic win over Liverpool. Julen Lopetegui's side are up to 15th, while Jurgen Klopp's out-of-form Reds remain languishing in 10th
Sunday 5 February 2023 10:02, UK
Wolves climbed out of the relegation zone in style with a sensational 3-0 win over Liverpool as Jurgen Klopp's struggles continued.
Joel Matip's own goal followed by Craig Dawson's debut strike put Liverpool up against it early on and though the visitors pushed hard in the second half, it was Wolves captain Ruben Neves who sealed the victory for Julen Lopetegui's men at a jubilant Molineux.
It is a fourth game without a Premier League win for Klopp's out-of-sorts team and there were problems at both ends of the pitch for his side here in what was a repeat of the scoreline away to Brighton last month. Liverpool remain 10th in the table.
As for Wolves, Everton's win over Arsenal had piled on the pressure ahead of kick-off, plunging them into the bottom three, but they played like a team capable of much more than scrapping at the foot of the table. The three points lift them up three places to 15th - and leave Liverpool in disarray.
Wolves: Sa (8), Semedo (7), Dawson (9), Kilman (8), Ait-Nouri (7), Nunes (7), Neves (9), Lemina (9), Sarabia (7), Cunha (7), Hwang (7).
Subs: Traore (8), Moutinho (7), Jimenez (5), Podence (n/a), Jonny (n/a).
Liverpool: Alisson (6), Alexander-Arnold (6), Gomez (4), Matip (4), Robertson (6), Bajcetic (6), Thiago (6), Keita (5), Salah (6), Nunez (5), Gakpo (6).
Subs: Milner (5), Henderson (6), Elliott (6), Oxlade-Chamberlain (n/a), Tsimikas (n/a).
Player of the match: Craig Dawson
There was a big-game atmosphere at Molineux from the outset and the home team responded to that with a positive start that soon yielded two goals. Pablo Sarabia, making his first start since his move from Paris Saint-Germain, was the architect of the first.
His lofted ball behind a static defence found Hee-chan Hwang, and the winger's drilled cut-back deflected off Matip, creeping beyond Alisson and over the line despite the efforts of Trent Alexander-Arnold. Wolves fed off the confidence it gave them.
Wolves made four changes to the team that lost at Manchester City with Pablo Sarabia and Craig Dawson coming into the starting line-up for the first time. Rayan Ait-Nouri and Matheus Cunha also returned to the team. Hugo Bueno, Nathan Collins, Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore were the four to drop to the bench.
There were three changes to the Liverpool side that were held by Chelsea at Anfield last time out in the Premier League with Darwin Nunez coming back in alongside Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joel Matip. The injured Ibrahima Konate made way along with Harvey Elliott and James Milner.
Nelson Semedo won a free-kick and Neves' ball found Matheus Cunha at the near post. His centre found its way to Maximilian Kilman and though his attempt was blocked, Dawson was there to lash the ball into the Liverpool net, sparking wild scenes.
Wolves remain the lowest scorers in the Premier League this season but Dawson, signed from West Ham in the January transfer window, has an impressive record in front of goal for a defender. He certainly took the opportunity in style as others failed to react.
Klopp seemed in shock, his players lacking intensity. The Liverpool coach has spoken of positive signs since the heavy defeat to Brighton but something is amiss. Wolves might even have had a third before the break had Matheus Nunes not been denied by Alisson.
Hwang was forced off injured late in the first half and the arrival of Adama Traore only encouraged Wolves to settle into their shape and dare Liverpool to break them down. Klopp's team pushed hard and dominated possession but could not find the goal.
Darwin Nunez came closest but Jose Sa saved well when the Uruguayan was put through, and Mohamed Salah curled just wide when Cody Gakpo found him following Dawson's loose pass. But the real moment of quality in the second half came from Wolves yet again.
Joao Moutinho, on as a substitute, won the ball back inside his own half and had the poise to delay his pass before picking out Traore. The winger, so often accused of not providing the final ball, found Neves and the skipper ended the contest from close range.
Wolves had ridden the storm and finished the game playing keep ball to the delight of the crowd, relegation fears eased and optimism back at Molineux. But the focus will surely be on Liverpool, well beaten again away from home and with no solution in sight.
|Assists||Hwang, Kilman, Traore|
|Bonus points||Neves (3), Kilman (2), Dawson (1)|
"The start of the game was horrible, it is not allowed to happen," said Klopp.
"There is the first 12 minutes, then it is OK for an away performance, where we created, we were there. We started extremely well in the second half, the first 20 to 25 minutes, it is a super away game without scoring. Then they score the third goal from a counter-attack.
"We caused our own misery in that first 12 minutes. That cannot happen. It did. But it cannot. It is really tough to swallow. You can criticise, you can judge and you are probably right. I have nothing to say because these 12 minutes are not allowed.
"It is really difficult to summarise. The team is not full of confidence, but do you need a lot of confidence for that? To put your body between the ball and opponent? Stop the cross?
"How can I not be concerned? I cannot sit here and say it is OK because it is not. I got asked if it is because of last season, 63 games. It is clear that has influenced the start of the season but how long can we suffer that? It is February by my watch.
"It might have been a problem but today, the first 12 minutes, it is not allowed and this is the outcome. This is not how a 3-0 looks - with Wolves clearly better side. Maybe for 12 minutes and the end when the ball was their friend again."
Klopp was clear that he has not lost belief in himself as a coach - or the players who have brought him such success at Liverpool but are now falling short of their best form.
"I don't think they are at their best at the moment but I still know how good they are and how good they can be. But we cannot help ourselves in this moment.
"Seven or eight players weren't involved in the first goal, seven or eight players weren't involved in the second goal, but all are affected by it. The start is horrible. Then it is normal, it is great. OK, no finishing. But at the moment it is always 'if', 'if', 'if' and I can't hear it anymore."
Wolves next visit relegation rivals Southampton on Saturday February 11; kick-off 3pm. They then host Bournemouth a week later on February 18; kick-off 3pm.
Liverpool face their first test against Sean Dyche's Everton in the Merseyside Derby live on Sky Sports next up on Monday February 13; kick-off 8pm. They're then back on Sky Sports on Saturday February 18 when they visit Newcastle; kick-off 5.30pm.