Liverpool sealed another hard-fought victory on the road, winning 2-0 at Wolves to ensure they remain top of the Premier League on Christmas Day.
Wolves 0-2 Liverpool
Premier League, Molineux
December 21, 2018
Salah 19′ (assist – Fabinho)
Van Dijk 68′ (assist – Salah)
With Christmas rapidly approaching, Liverpool took to the field for the first of the weekend’s fixtures, with a tough trip to Molineux their latest challenge.
Heading into the game top of the table, the Reds lined up with just two changes from their huge 3-1 victory over Man United at the weekend, with James Milner and Jordan Henderson coming in for Nathaniel Clyne and Gini Wijnaldum.
With a bizarre pre-match light show whipping up the home crowd, the pressure was on the visitors to match the intensity, with victory ensuring pole position for Christmas Day.
A seventh-placed Wolves were certainly not presented as an easy target, but after weathering the storm Liverpool were able to cement their place at the summit.
- Klopp makes two changes as Henderson comes in for 300th game
- Fabinho tees up Salah to open scoring after difficult start
- Keita forced off with suspected rib injury in lacklustre game for No. 8
- Salah turns provider as Van Dijk scores first league goal for Liverpool
- Reds top the Premier League on Christmas Day in big title hope
The Reds almost got off to the worst start possible as an error in possession from Fabinho saw the lightning-fast Adama Traore through, but pressure from Alisson and Virgil van Dijk saw the Spaniard fire into the sidenetting.
Heavy rain at Molineux gave the counter-attacking hosts the advantage, and a low, long-range shot from Romain Saiss saw Alisson spill the ball for a second game running, but Fabinho was there to make the clearance this time.
But Liverpool were soon ahead, and it was the busy Fabinho who played the integral role, with his one-two with Sadio Mane allowing him to drive to the byline and pull it back for Mohamed Salah to flick past Rui Patricio for 1-0.
The pace slowed down after the opener, with both sides taking a cautious approach, and Klopp’s back line improving as the half went on.
Wolves had a penalty shout ignored after a mazy run from right wing-back Matt Doherty, while some more sloppy play from Naby Keita allowed him through again only for Alisson to make the save and keep Liverpool ahead going into the break.
Liverpool looked much more comfortable after the break, able to get the ball down and impose their more measured attacking play, but they were rocked by an early setback as Keita was forced off through injury.
Two changes from Wolves came soon after, with Traore one of those replaced after he was, remarkably, beat for pace by Van Dijk heading back towards Alisson‘s goal.
Adam Lallana came on the end of a bright Liverpool break on 67 minutes as Salah found Mane and then onto the substitute, but his blast at goal was blocked for a corner.
That led to a second for the away side, with the set-piece ending up with the Egyptian King outside the box, and his brilliant clipped pass found Van Dijk to touch in his first Premier League goal for the Reds.
This proved enough to seal the victory, as Klopp’s side hold their place at the top of the table over Christmas.
TIA Man of the Match: Mohamed Salah
Referee: Craig Pawson
Wolves: Patricio; Bennett, Coady, Boly; Doherty, Neves, Moutinho (Gibbs-White 63′), Saiss, Jonny (Vinagre 81′); Adama (Cavaleiro 63′), Jimenez
Subs not used: Ruddy, Dendoncker, Costa, Bonatini
Subs not used: Mignolet, Shaqiri, Sturridge, Origi
Next Match: Newcastle (H) – Premier League – Wednesday, December 26, 3pm (GMT)