Liverpool beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 on Sunday at Anfield but it was far from routine for the Premier League leaders.
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Amid VAR drama in the first half which saw Sadio Mane’s goal ruled legit by video technology then chalking off what looked like an equalizer from Wolves’ Neto, the game was tight and tense as Wolves spurned several decent chances in the second half.
With the win Liverpool are now 50 games unbeaten at home in the Premier League and they lead second-place Leicester City by 13 points and also have a game in hand. Wolves sit in seventh place on 30 points.
3 things we learned
1. Reds grind it out as PL title procession begins: Liverpool are just a winning machine. They have won 17-straight games at home, they are 50 unbeaten in the PL at Anfield and they have lost just one of their last 36 PL games and none this season. Klopp’s side have been workmanlike during many games this season and they’ve shaken off the tag as the great entertainers. They can still do that but they can also grind out wins with ease. That is why they are 13 points clear at the halfway point and why their title procession has already begun.
2. Wolves livid but VAR followed the rules: Nuno Espirito Santo was booked, Wolves’ players fell to their knees and fans watching across the globe vented their anger at VAR. But, under the current laws of the game, the video technology worked well. That will not be a popular opinion but after 24 hours which has seen so many tight offside calls chalking off goals, it happened agains as Neto looked to have equalized right on half time. A tweak to the offside law is needed by IFAB otherwise we will have these tight offside calls for the rest of the time we have VAR.
3. Memorable 2019 for Liverpool: They won their sixth European title and are runaway leaders in the Premier League. 2019 has been kind to Liverpool even if they were pipped to the 2018-19 title. Many thought Klopp’s side would be demoralized by losing out on the title by one point last season but they’ve been utterly dominant in the last 12 months, losing just once in the PL, winning the UCL and they look set to smash several records on their way to winning the PL this season.
Man of the Match: Neto - He was absolutely everywhere, scored a superb goal which was ruled out and gave Alexander-Arnold a torrid outing. Superb display from the Portuguese teenager.
Liverpool started brightly as Trent Alexander-Arnold had a shot from the edge of the box which was blocked, then his cross found Salah who slotted just over the bar.
Salah then had a shot bravely blocked as Liverpool had plenty of the ball but Wolves were a threat on the break.
The hosts continued to huff and puff as Mane caused problems and Roberto Firmino nodded wide, as Wolves’ defense was just about holding firm.
Right on half time Liverpool took the lead as Mane finished off a flick from Adam Lallana. However, the goal was initially ruled off for handball on the pitch but VAR was used to overturn the decision as Lallana flicked it on with his shoulder instead of his arm.
Wolves thought they had equalized right on half time but Neto’s goal was ruled out by VAR for a marginal offside in the build up by Jonny Otto, as the visitors were livid and the hosts delighted, as Liverpool led 1-0 at the break.
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Georginio Wijnaldum then had a header from a promising position deflected over as Liverpool started the second half well.
Wolves grew into the second half as Adama Traore came off the bench and Diogo Jota caught Virgil van Dijk in possession but his shot was deflected wide as the hosts built up a head of steam.
As the game opened up Liverpool had plenty of chances to wrap it up on the break but Wolves dug deep to stay in the game as long as they could.
Substitute Raul Jimenez saw his effort deflected over by Joe Gomez as Liverpool were pinned back late on but Joao Moutinho, Romain Saiss and Ruben Vinagre all smashed over from good positions and Traore was denied by a superb block.