Liverpool’s misery plunges to new depths with Wolves thrashing
Liverpool suffered a Molineux nightmare as Jurgen Klopp’s side were outclassed by Wolves.
Joel Matip’s own goal, Craig Dawson’s debut strike and Ruben Neves’ effort sealed a stunning 3-0 win for the hosts as the shambolic Reds continued to sink.
Liverpool are floundering in 10th after a third straight Premier League away defeat and – aside from a spell after the break – were embarrassed by fired-up Wolves.
Next up they welcome a reinvigorated Everton before a trip to Newcastle serves as a stark reminder of the change in fortunes at Anfield and St James’ Park.
With the Reds already out of title contention, only the most optimistic supporter would back them not to be knocked out of the Champions League by Real Madrid in March.
There is a direction to Wolves which is missing at Liverpool. Julen Lopetegui has been backed with six new recruits in January and it is hard to ignore the sense Molineux is steeled for the survival fight.
They had been plunged back into the relegation zone by Everton’s early win over Arsenal but responded in style, ahead of potential season-defining games with Southampton and Bournemouth.
Performances have steadily improved since Lopetegui’s arrival but, having scored in just half of their previous 20 top-flight matches, it has always been obvious what needed to change. It is the first time Wolves have scored three goals or more in a game in 11 months.
Liverpool were there for the taking, on the cusp of losing three straight Premier League away games for the first time in 11 years after the chastening defeats at Brentford and Brighton.
Confidence was clearly low and it plummeted during a shocking start as Wolves raced into a 2-0 lead inside 12 minutes.
The seeds of doubt were sown in the Liverpool defence when Matheus Cunha and Pablo Sarabia threatened before the hosts grabbed a fifth-minute lead.
Hwang Hee-chan’s clever run was spotted by Sarabia and the forward kept his composure to cut the ball back for Matip to deflect into his own net.
Wolves had started like a train and were coasting just seven minutes later.
Again Liverpool’s defending left a lot to be desired as Cunha got ahead of Andy Robertson before Joe Gomez’s header took the ball away from Alisson Becker.
Max Kilman’s header was then blocked but debutant Dawson slammed in the rebound from 10 yards.
The hosts were fuelled by the injustice they felt after Toti Gomes’ legitimate winner was ruled out in their FA Cup tie at Anfield last month and, having lost the replay, were not about to let Liverpool escape a third time.
Jose Sa denied Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah, on his 200th Premier League appearance for Liverpool, shot over during the visitors’ tepid response.
But they were being outplayed and only Alisson stopped Matheus Nunes making it 3-0 after a dithering Matip was caught out again.
Wolves were the antithesis of Liverpool; snappy, combative, energetic and inventive and the first half summed up the visitors’ current plight.
Dawson’s goal meant they have already conceded more this season than last term and the Reds desperately needed a second-half response.
They emerged with more purpose – though it was hard to have any less – and wanted a penalty when Naby Keita’s shot deflected off Robertson and hit Kilman on the arm.
Salah curled wide and Sa thwarted Nunez as Liverpool camped inside the hosts’ half without finding a breakthrough – which proved crucial with 20 minutes left.
Wolves had battened down the hatches but they seized on more shoddy Liverpool play to wrap the game up.
Gomez and Stefan Bajcetic lost possession in midfield for Sarabia to send Adama Traore sprinting down the right and, with Liverpool caught on the break, he found Neves to slot in from six yards.