Liverpool 2 (Mane 17’ & 81’) Wolves 0
Wolves drew the curtain on a fantastic first campaign back in the Premier League with a creditable performance at runners-up Liverpool, but their efforts went unrewarded at Anfield. Sadio Mane scored either side of the break for the Reds, who missed out on lifting the trophy, but Wolves will take heart from another strong showing against one of the best sides in the country.
Mane had the hosts in the driving seat early on, stroking home Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross in front of the Kop, but either side of his goals Wolves were the better side. Matt Doherty watched his clean strike come back off the crossbar on the stroke of half-time, and the break the visitors twice came close through Diogo Jota.
However, the away side’s hopes were extinguished in the closing stages as Mane converted from another Alexander-Arnold cross, but Nuno’s side returned to Wolverhampton in a positive frame of mind and looking forward to the fresh campaign. Seventh place was secured before the trip to Anfield and a positive showing on Merseyside will only increase positivity going into the summer.
With all attention on Liverpool and the title challenge, their intense start was little surprise, but Rui Patricio was alert early on to clean up Divock Origi’s near-post shot. However, after 15 minutes of possession, the hosts eventually made it count as Mane spread the ball out to Alexander-Arnold and kept on the move, charging into the box to stroke home the full-back’s deflected cross.
Wolves began to settle after the goal and began to ask questions either side of Andy Robertson stinging the palms of Patricio from range. Goals were being exchanged equally at the AMEX Stadium between Brighton & Hove Albion and Manchester City, while Liverpool continued to look for a second, but Mo Salah’s volley from a half-cleared corner sailed harmlessly over the bar.
The first glimpse of goal Wolves enjoyed came from a Ryan Bennett long throw, which Willy Boly flicked onto Raul Jimenez, but a deflection took the sting out of the Mexican’s shot and Alisson Becker was able to collect. The forward sparked into life and got the better of Joel Matip moments later too but was unable to cut back for the onrushing Jonny Otto.
It was the Spaniard who was at the centre of Wolves’ best chance of the opening half. He flew down the left and squared for Jota, who had the awareness to lay off for Doherty, but the wing-back’s first-time, side-footed effort came back off the top of the crossbar. That would prove to be the final opening of the half at what was a quieter Anfield than at kick-off, with City now in the title driving seat.
Half-time: Liverpool 1 Wolves 0
After the break, it was Wolves who were asking the questions, getting into dangerous positions without truly testing Alisson. The best of the openings came to Jonny, after Doherty had got in behind Robertson, but Alexander-Arnold made himself big to block.
Some nice one-touch passing in the Wolves midfield created the next opportunity, but once Jota fed Jimenez out wide, the Mexican is likely to regret slicing wide of the near post, rather than picking out a team mate in the middle.
However, the Reds were always a threat on the break and, after Jonny had been dispossessed on the edge of the home box, Liverpool flew up the other of the pitch through Mane, but his cross was met with a wayward Origi volley which failed to trouble Patricio.
All Wolves’ threat was coming through Doherty down the right and, once he exchanged passes with Leander Dendoncker, he rolled a cross in for Jimenez, who couldn’t find a clean connection and scuffed wide.
Wolves best chance yet then fell to Jota, who latched onto Doherty’s brilliantly-floated pass, but fired at Alisson, who’d raced off his line impressively. Back came Wolves again with a little over 15 minutes remaining, but after latching on Jimenez’s flick, Jota could only head into the arm of Alisson.
Wijnaldum then passed up an opportunity to make Liverpool’s lead comfortable from a Robertson cross, before Adama Traore replaced the lively Doherty for the final ten minutes. However, within seconds the hosts sealed victory with the second as Alexander-Arnold’s perfect cross found Mane who, despite looking offside, was allowed to convert his second from close range.
With the contest now all but over, another Alexander-Arnold cross was headed onto the bar by Virgil van Dijk, before Ruben Vinagre and Morgan Gibbs-White were handed the opportunity to play out the final moments of the campaign, replacing Jonny and Joao Moutinho. However, no further opportunities would come the way of either side and Wolves ended the campaign with a defeat they’ll take a great deal from.
Full-time: Liverpool 2 Wolves 0
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson (Gomez 84’), Fabinho, Wijnaldum (Oxlade-Chamberlain 88’), Henderson, Mane, Origi (Milner 64’), Salah.
Unused subs: Mignolet, Lovren, Shaqiri, Sturridge.
Wolves: Patricio, Doherty (Traore 80’), Bennett, Coady, Boly, Jonny (Vinagre 84’), Neves, Dendoncker, Moutinho (Gibbs-White 84’), Jota, Jimenez.
Unused subs: Ruddy, Kilman, Costa, Cavaleiro.