Jurgen Klopp said he has waited “ages” for Liverpool to win a game with a positive performance, after the Reds booked their place in the FA Cup fourth round with a gutsy victory over Wolves at Molineux.
Harvey Elliott’s stunning first-half drive earned Klopp’s team their first win since the turn of the year, just three days after a dismal defeat at Brighton in the Premier League.
Wolves applied heavy pressure in the latter stages but the much-changed visitors held on to book a fourth-round meeting with the Seagulls on Sunday, 29 January.
“It feels like ages ago we had that feeling of winning and playing well,” Klopp told BBC One afterwards.
“We had to fight hard at the end but we controlled the game for long periods. It’s great and the reaction we wanted to see.”
Tuesday’s triumph was Liverpool’s third since the resumption of domestic football after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
A 3-2 League Cup loss at Manchester City on 22 December was followed by hard-fought victories over Aston Villa and Leicester in the Premier League, before humbling defeats at Brentford and Brighton either side of the 2-2 draw with Wolves at Anfield.
“We had a few man-of-the-match performances today,” Klopp continued. “We played a really good first half, had good periods in the second and in the end it was just about passion to block the shots.”
Wolves’ improvement under Julen Lopetegui has been clear to see but the home side failed to seriously threaten Caoimhin Kelleher’s goal until late on, when Ruben Neves, Raul Jimenez and Matheus Cunha all went close to an equaliser.
Reds deliver perfect response
There was a brief stoppage in play within the first minute due to a power cut inside the stadium, but Liverpool’s visiting supporters did not have to wait much longer for teenager Elliott to light up Molineux with a goal of the highest quality.
The 19-year-old – one of eight changes from Saturday’s loss at Brighton – collected a pass from Thiago Alcantara, advanced unchallenged into the Wolves half and unleashed a ferocious 30-yard effort which sailed over the dive of goalkeeper Jose Sa and into the net.
The goal appeared to settle Liverpool, who continued to attack with pace and intensity while forcing the hosts into errors in possession.
Fabio Carvalho had the ball in the Wolves net again 10 minutes before half-time, but the former Fulham forward was in an offside position from Naby Keita’s through-ball and the goal was disallowed.
Wolves’ best opportunity of the first half fell to the lively Adama Traore, who raced on to Neves’ pass but failed to hit the target from a tight angle.
Lopetegui introduced Matheus Nunes and Nelson Semedo at half-time in an effort to give his team fresh impetus, but the hosts continued to labour in the final third until Cunha and Daniel Podence entered the fray with 25 minutes remaining.
Jimenez and Cunha both failed to hit the target from promising positions, before the latter sent a tame header into Kelleher’s arms from deep inside the penalty area.
Fellow second-half substitute Curtis Jones missed an opportunity to double Liverpool’s advantage when he dragged a shot just past the far post in the 90th minute, but the holders held on for a first clean sheet in eight games and a place in the fourth round.