Jurgen Klopp: “The good thing about a first half like that is that it was so bad that I didn’t think we could play a second halfg like that, to be honest,” says the Liverpool manager in an interview with TNT Sports. “Obviously we wanted to start very differently but for whatever reasons it was not possible for some of the boys.
We had low energy levels, so we thought we’d change one player to giver us bit more natural speed up front and we got control of the game better. The first half was really bad and the second half was really good. Do I want to see that every week? No but I’ll take it today. It’s a massive three points.”
Match report: Wolves 1-3 Liverpool
Premier League: Liverpool put a woeful performance in the opening 45 minutes behind them to run out comfortable winners, while Wolves came up short in what was the proverbial game of two halves. Ben Fisher reports from Molineux …
Andy Robertson: “I can tell you some of it probably, but not all of it,” says the Liverpool captain with a laugh, when he is asked what was said in the Liverpool dressing-room at half-time in an interview with TNT Sports.
“Obviously some of us just weren’t at the races in the first half. You can come up with all sorts of excuses about lads travelling the world during the international break but at the end of the day you have to be ready to play the game and it took us 45 minutes to get into it. Wolves were the better team, they had the better chances, they put us under pressure and we made too many mistakes.
“In the second half we came out and changed our formation slightly and that kind of worked. We changed to a 4-4-2 and had people higher up the pitch. We dominated thre second half and probably got what we deserrved from that second half performance.”
A quick recap: Wolves roared out of the traps, going a goal up after seven minutes when Hwang Hee-chan converted a Pedro Neto cross at the far post. Completely dominant in the first half, Wolves failed to further capitalise and were left to rue missed chances. Matheus Cunha was particularly culpable.
The second half was a different story, with Wolves playing meekly on the back foot as they let Liverpool back into the game. Their victory looked a formality after Cody Gakpo equalised with a tap-in, and it duly arrived courtesy of Andy Robertson’s strike and a late Hugo Bueno own goal.
Full time: Wolves 1-3 Liverpool
Peep! Peep! Peeeeeeeeeeeep! It’s finally over at Molineux, where Liverpool didn’t really get going until the second half but eventually came from a goal down to win comfortably.
90+12 min: Whistles can be heard around Molineux. Are they from Liverpool fans? Are they from Wolves fans? It’s probably a combination of both but crucially, none of them are Michael Oliver’s. Ah, here we go …
90+9 min: Into the tenth minute of added time we go, although I suspect everyone oin Molineux would have been delighted to hear the final whistle at least five minutes ago.
90+8 min: Nunez and Elliott combine to try and set up Gravenberch for a debut goal, but the substitute is unable to get the ball out from under his feet and pull the trigger from 10 yards out. Some admin: Liverpool’s third goal has been chalked down as a Hugo Bueno own goal.
90+5 min: We’re well into eight minutes of added time, which could take even longer after a lengthy pause for treament on Dawson.
90+3 min: Elliott and Curtis Jones are both booked for leaping an advertising hoarding to go and celebrate that third goal with Liverpool’s travelling fans. As Craig Dawson receives treatment for an injury, Liverpool introduce Ryan Gravenberch for his club debut. Mo Salah makes way.
Goal! Wolves 1-3 Liverpool (Elliott 90+1min)
Liverpool stretch their lead. Unmarked on the edge of the penalty area, Harvey Elliott picks up a pass from Mo Salah and tries his luck. His shot looks to be going wide and takes a big deflection of Bueno before going in off the right post.
89 min: If I was a Wolves fan, which I am not, I would be decidedly unimpressed by the manner in which my team let Liverpool back into this game. You could see it comiung from the very early stages of the second half, when it became quite apparent Gary O’Neil’s players had retreated into their shell despite their excellent performance in the first half.
87 min: A poor clearance from Jose Sa went straight to Robertson in midfield. He advanced, played the ball wide to Salah and continued his run unchecked. Salah played the ball back into Robertson’s path and he scored with a tidy finish from six yards.
GOAL! Wolves 1-2 Liverpool (Robertson 85)
Liverpool lead and it’s no surprise. Andy Robertson capitalises on a poor clearance by Jose Sa to start and finish a move that leads to Liverpool’s second goal.
83 min: Liverpool substitution: Ibrahima Konate has replacedd Jarell Quansah, who has cramp.
81 min: Nelson Semedo has a shot bocked by Joel Matip, prompting Wolves fans to appeal for a penalty. The ball hit the defender’s arm, which was across his chest, so they’re clutching at straws. Meanwhile in the background, a blatant Joe Gomez tug on the shirt of Pedro Neto, as the Wolves man was trying to make a run into the Liverpool penalty area, goes unpunished.
79 min: Anonymous in this second half after his spellbinding effort in the opening 45 minutes, Pedro Neto sends a cross into the Liverpool penalty area. Jarell Quansah heads clear under pressure from Fabio Silva.
77 min: Wolves double-substitution: Jeanricner Bellegarde and Mario Lemina make way for Boubacar Traore and Tommy Doyle. Bellegarde had a fine debut for his new team and gets a warm ovation on his exit from the field.
75 min: Dominik Szobozslai blasts the ball over the bar from the edge of the Wolves penalty area.
74 min: Nelson Semedo is booked for a foul on Szoboszlai, prompting outrage from the crowd. It looked very soft and if Michael Oliver hadn’t blown his whistle, Wolves were through on the Liverpool goal.
71 min: Nelson Semedo gets booked for time-wasting, which tells you all you need to know about the Wolves approach during this second half. They’ve been very poor.
69 min: After good work between himself, Salah and Diaz, Darwin Nunez is played through on goal by Salah but is unable to place the ball past Jose Sa, who saves well from point-blank range.
66 min: I’m not sure if their half-time tea was spiked with some sort of sedative, but the transformation in Wolves has been dramatic since the break. They are a pale shadow of the side who dominated Liverpool in the opening 45 minutes and are really struggling.
65 min: Wolves substitution: the young Spaniard Hugo Bueno comes on for Rayan Ait-Nouri, who has gone off with a knock. It’s a like for like swap.
63 min: Darwin Nunez advances down the inside left with Mo Salah and Luis Diaz waiting for a pull-back in the centre. The Uruguayan fails to pick out either of them.
61 min: Wolves double-substitution: Matt Doherty and Fabio Silva come on for Hwang Hee-chan and Matheus Cunha.
59 min: Wolves will be kicking themselves after letting in that equaliser, one you could see coming and that they brought on themselves. They’ve been far too meek in this second half, following a brave and dominant opening 45 minutes.
58 min: Diogo Jota was instrumental in that equaliser, nut-megging Ait-Nouri out wide before picking out Salah in the Wolves penalty area. It was his last contribution of the game, as both and Gakpo, the goalscorer, have been taken off.
56 min: Liverpool double-substitution: Diogo Jota and Cody Gakpo make way for Harvey Elliott and Darwin Nunez.
GOAL! Wolves 1-1 Liverpool (Gakpo 55)
Liverpool are level. On the verge of being hooked, Cody Gakpo is on hand at the far post to tap home a low Mo Salah cross driven across the face of the Wolves goal.
53 min: Luis Diaz tries to smash a low cross into the Wolves penalty area but it’s blocked at the near post by Nelson Semedo. Meanwhile on the touchline, Liverpool are preparing to make a double-substitution.
51 min: Neto getys in behind Joe Gomez again, running on to a ball over the full-back’s herad from Ait-Nouri. Joel Matip gets across to bail out his teammate.
50 min: Liverpool already look to have upped their performance levels from the first half, while Wolves seem to be sitting much deeper, inviting them on.
49 min: With Diaz on for Mac Allister, who looks very glum in his seat on the bench alongside Darwin Nunez, Liverpool are playing with Szoboszlai in a much deeper role.
48 min: Szoboszlai picks out Andy Robertson with a diagonal ball towards the far post. The Scot sidefoots the ball into the centre on the volley and Diaz sends a header flashing narrowly wide of the left upright.
47 min: Diaz sprays the ball out wide to Joe Gomez as Liverpool mount an early attack. They’re repelled by Wolves.
Second half: Wolves 1-0 Liverpool
46 min: Liverpool kick off, having replaced Alexis Mac Allister with Luis Diaz.
Half-time: Wolves 1-0 Liverpool
Peep: Michael Oliver blows for the break and the players of both sides adjourn to their dressing-rooms. One suspects those of Liverpool are in for an absolute roasting from their manager, as they’ve been very disappointing.
Wolves are well worth their one-goal lead and will perhaps be a little disappointed they haven’t scored a couple more. It will be very surprising if Klopp doesn’t ring the changes for the second half, as far too many of his players are not at the races today.
45+1 min: Robertson gets a cross into the Wolves box, Jose Sa flaps and fails to claim it, and the ball drops for Salah about 14 yards out. His pile-driver is blocked, as is Domink Szobozslai’s follow-up. Great defending by Wolves.
43 min: Off Wolves go again, attacking down the left with Neto on the ball once again. He gallops into space and it is left to Andy Robertson to get across to relieve him of possesion. Liverpool eventually clear the ball, albeit unconvincingly under pressure from the Wolves frontmen.
42 min: Semedo overhits as cross into the Liverpool penalty area that carries through to Neto. His delivery is cleared by Jarell Quansah.
40 min: Neto and Bellegarde link up down the left again, with the former dinking another cross into the Liverpool penalty area. The ball finds its way back to Bellegarde off another Wolves player, but his shot is blocked by Mac Allister.
39 min: One of the aforementioned underperformers, Cody Gakpo, connects with a low Andy Robertson cross into the Wolves penalty area but shanks his effort well away to his right.
36 min: Wolves have been superb so far but that missed Cunha chance is indicative of the problems in front of goal they’ve endure this season and last. Neto and Bellegarde are having a field day down the left side of the pitch, making Joe Gomez look very ordinary indeed. He’s not the only Liverpool having a torrid time of it; several more are struggling to have any sort of impact on the game.
33 min: Dawson picks out Neto with a superb crossfield pass. After chesting it down, he cuts inside Gomez with alarming ease and curls the ball to the far post. It’s on a plate for the unmarked Matheus Cunha, who makes an absolute dog’s breakfast of his header, barely making contact with the ball. He’s missed a sitter and that’s a real let-off for Liverpool, who are lucky not to be three goals down.
32 min: Mac Allister tries to pick out Salah with a clippped ball into the centre of the Wolves penalty area. Jose Sa is quick off his line to claim and deny the Egyptian.
32 min: Once again, the ball is sent towards Dawson, who makes a run to the far post. He gets his head to the ball but sends a soft effort wide from a very tight angle.
30 min: Bellegarde eschews a good shooting opportunity for reasons best known to himself. Moments later, Semedo sends a low ball into the Liverpool box, which is put out for another Wolves corner.
29 min: Bellegarde and Neto are instrumental in another good Wolves attack which ends with Hwang winning a corner for his side. Neto tries to pick out Craig Dawson at the far post but his header cannons off the head of Joe Gomez, who is in close attendance.
27 min: Liverpool get the ball wide, Diogo Jota sends a cross towards the far post, which Ait-Nouri kicks out for a corner. Craig Dawson clears the inswinger for Wolves, as Cody Gakpo continues to berate himself for not being on the end of the original cross.
26 min: A Joe Gomez corss from the left takes a deflection off Ait-Nouri’s backside, loops up in the air and drops into the gloves of Jose Sa.
24 min: Liverpool win a free-kick straight in front of the Wolves goal, about 35 yards out. Szboszlai’s delivery into the penalty area is headed away by Max Kilman and subsequently booted upfield by Ait-Nouri.
22 min: Quansah does well to intercept a through ball aimed for Hwang and sends Liverpool on a counter-attack which quickly breaks down because, not for the first, second, third or even fourth time in this game, they can’t keep hold of the ball.
20 min: Patient or ponderous? Liverpool’s build-up play from the back looks really slow, which I suppose is a testament to the manner in which their hosts have set up. Jurgen Klopp’s side are really struggling to get a foothold in midfield and already look out of ideas.
19 min: Bellegarde and Neto combine down the left and it’s the latter who finds room to try a shot from about 20 yards. He sends his dipping effort wide. Liverpool are seriously under the cosh.
18 min: Liverpool win a throw-in deep in Wolves territory and it’s Gomez who takes it. The ball finds it’s way back to Jarell Quansah near the halfway line.
16 min: A brilliant, inch-perfect crossfield pass from Max Kilman finds Pedro Neto on the left touchline. He’s unable to get past Joe Gomez.
14 min: Bellegarde wins another corner for Wolves after taking another run at the Liverpool defence. He and Wolves in general have started superbly. Neto’s delivery finds the head of Mario Lemina but the Wolves midfielder is unable to get much purchase on the ball, which loops harmlessly up in the air and ends up in the possession of Alisson.
13 min: Mo Salah gets a cross from the right into the Wolves box, where an off balance Diogo Jota fires high over the cross-bar.
10 min: Wolves go close again, with Joe Gomez getting a little lucky as a Nelson Semedo cross was whipped into the Liverpool penalty area. The Liverpool defender apeeared to lose track of the flight of the ball but Pedro Neto was unable to convert. Over the bar.
9 min: That was terrific play from Neto, who picked up the ball in the inside-left channel and took on and beat Szoboszlai and Joe Gomes before squaring the ball. He picked out Hwang at the far post and the South Korean sidefooted home. Alisson got plenty behind the ball but was unable to prevent it crossing the line.
GOAL! Wolves 1-0 Liverpool (Hwang 7)
Wolves lead at Molineux! Hwang Hee-chan has the ball squared his way at the far post by Pedro Neto and sidefoots it home.
6 min: Mo Salah picks up the ball on the right touchline and tries to cut inside but is dispossessed by Rayan Ait-Nouri, who clears the ball for Wolves.
4 min: Alexis Mac Allister gets an early yellow card for a grab on the shoulder of Matheus Cunha, who had run past him. The Liverpool midfielder is incredulous but it looked fair enough to me.
3 min: Liverpool attack down the left flank before switching to the right. Dominik Szoboszlai gets a quick ball into the Wolves penalty area but there’s nobody present in a red shirt to capaitalise. Jose Sa gets an early touch.
1 min: Jean-Ricner Bellegarde goes on a gallop down the inside left, taking on and beating Joe Gomez before winning a corner. It’s an encouraging start for the new Wolves signing. Liverpool clear Pedro Neto’s set-piece.
Wolves v Liverpool is go ...
1 min: Wolves get the ball rolling following a moment’s perfectly observed silence for the recent tragedies in Morocco and Libya.
Not long now: The teams are out on the pitch and line up either side of referee Michael Oliver and his team of match officials. Kick-off is just a few handshakes, a coin-toss and a blast of the whistle away.
Gary O’Neil: “It’s going to be a tough test,” said the Wolves manager during his pre-match press conference. “We’ve got a good game plan in place that allows us to be aggressive when we’re ready to, allows us to have good spells with the ball, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the boys can produce.
“We’re creating a lot of chances. My job is to understand exactly what’s going on, how and why. Data and numbers wise, we’re creating a lot of good opportunities and arriving in good areas. There’s still a lot we need to improve to get it to where I think it should be.”
Jurgen Klopp: ““I think definitely in the future he has the potential to play as a No.6,” said Liverpool’s manager when asked about his plans for new signing Ryan Gravenberch. “The only thing about Alexis Mac Allister - he can play the position - is, is he a classical 6 how you would draw it? Probably not. But the position in football has changed over the years.
“He’s so skilled, I don’t like to talk about the things he is not good at yet. They all have skills and yes they have to improve and he knows that, and he tries but the natural stuff is there and all the other stuff takes time and that is how it is. He is an 8, he can play as a 10, definitely and yes, in time, he can play as a 6. Like Curtis [Jones] could play as a 6, they just have to get used to the different spaces and responsibilities.”
Those teams: Brought in from Strasbourg on Deadline Day, Jeanricner Bellegarde comes straight into the Wolves midfield, while their other last-minute signing Tommy Doyle starts on the bench. Hwang Hee-chan starts up front for Wolves in place of Fabio Silva, who drops to the bench. Nelson Semedo makes his 100th Premier League appearance for Wolves.
Jurgen Klopp makes three changes to the side that swatted Aston Villa aside last time out, with Joe Gomez coming in at right-back in place of Trent Alexander-Arnold. A 20-year-old from Warrington who spent the second half of last season on loan at Bristol Rovers, Jarell Quansah starts in the heart of Liverpool’s defence in the absence of Virgil van Dijk. He’ll start his first Premier League game alongside Joel Matip, while Ibrahima Konate is on the bench.
Wolves v Liverpool line-ups
Wolves: Jose Sa, Nelson Semedo, Dawson, Kilman, Ait Nouri, Bellegarde, Lemina, Joao Gomes, Pedro Neto, Matheus Cunha, Hwang.
Subs: Doherty, Traore, Silva, Hugo Bueno, Kalajdzic, Doyle, Sarabia, Gomes, Bentley.
Liverpool: Alisson, Gomez, Quansah, Matip, Robertson, Szoboszlai, Mac Allister, Jones, Salah, Gakpo, Jota.
Subs: Endo, Konate, Diaz, Nunez, Elliott, Tsimikas, Gravenberch, Bajcetic, Kelleher.
Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)
Early team news
Virgil van Dijk misses out today as he serves the second match of of the two-game ban he picked up for his dismissal in the game against Newcastle. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Thiago Alcantara also miss out through injury, while Darwin Nunez is a slight doubt. Midfielder Ryan Gravenberch could make his debut after arriving from Bayern Munich just before the international break.
Alisson, Alexis Mac Allister and Luis Diaz were all on international duty in South America over the international break and only returned to Merseyside yesterday, as their manager was quick to remind reporters yesterday. Ibrahima Konate has recovered from a back injury and should start.
Wolves midfielder Joe Hodge remains sidelined with a knee injury, but Tommy Doyle could feature after arriving on a season-long loan (with an option to buy) from Manchester City on Deadline Day. The midfielder has recorvered from a knee injury but is not yet fully match fit.
Matheus Cunha was on international duty with Brazil over the international break and played in thewir 5-1 World Cup qualifier win over Bolivia at the Mangueirao Stadium in Belem. Hwang Hee-chan had less far to travel home, as South Korea’s friendly against Saudi Arabia was played at St James’ Park in Newcastle.
Jürgen Klopp loves a moan about Saturday lunchtime kick-offs and considering his team failed to win any of the six games they had to play in that particular slot last season, it’s not difficult to see why.
The Liverpool manager was at it again yesterday, showing his less pleasant side as he got stuck into a journalist for asking a perfectly reasonable question about Liverpool’s strange early afternoon vicissitudes ahead of today’s potentially tricky assignment with Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux.
Liverpool go into this game on the back of three consecutive wins, while their hosts have only won one of their four Premier League matches under Gary O’Neil to date. The most recent of their three defeats was a 3-2 reverse at Crystal Palace just before the international break. Kick-off in the Black Country is at 12.30pm BST but stay tuned in the meantime for team news and build-up.