Liverpool 1 (Mane 42) Wolves 0
Wolves suffered a defeat tough to take at the league leaders Liverpool on Sunday, as VAR took centre stage at Anfield. The video referee overturned Sadio Mane’s disallowed goal and ruled out Pedro Neto’s impressi equaliser on a frustrating evening on Merseyside.
Nuno Espirito Santo tweaked his side for their second match in less than two days, but he’ll take heart from the performance, which saw Wolves push Liverpool all the way, before going down to Mane’s strike.
That goal came with the assistance of VAR, after checks for two handball incidents in the build-up, before Mane’s calmly finished, with the decision eventually going to the home side.
Just minutes later Neto’s effort went the opposite way, as the Portuguese found the back of the net, but it was cancelled out due to Jonny being ruled offside by the shortest of margins, meaning Wolves ended 2019 with a loss.
Despite four changes in personnel from the side which heroically beat Manchester City, Wolves enjoyed a fairly comfortable first half hour at Anfield, with the hosts restricted to half chances as best.
Mohamed Salah, coming up against Maximilian Kilman, was doing his best to unlock the Wolves defence, but his ambitious left-footed volley simply produced a routine save out of Rui Patricio.
A better chance was to fall to his fellow front man Roberto Firmino soon after, but he couldn’t keep his firm header, from a dangerous Trent Alexander-Arnold corner, on target and Patricio watched it fall wide of the target.
However, as half-time approached, VAR took centre stage and voted against Wolves on not one, but two occasions. Firstly, Anthony Taylor had ruled out Mane’s strike due to a handballs by Adam Lallana in the build-up, but after a long delay, VAR overruled the decision and Liverpool led.
Wolves felt aggrieved and took out their frustration by grabbing what they thought was the equaliser moments later. Once a cleared corner returned to Jonny, he squared for Neto to brilliantly finish, only for VAR to rule out the goal by the shortest of margins and spark more Wolves disappointment.
Half-time: Liverpool 1 Wolves 0
After the break Wolves had recomposed themselves and shortly after the restart Romain Saiss and Adama Traore were on, as Nuno returned to his familiar 3-4-3 formation, with Ruben Neves and Leander Dendoncker making way.
Soon after the switch, Diogo Jota created a presentable opening for himself, robbing van Dijk of possession and chasing in on goal, but, with Neto as an option to his left, Jota went for goal himself and was denied by Alisson at his near post.
That was Jota’s final contribution, as Raul Jimenez took his place soon after, and as the game wore on the visitors remained in the contest. They had chances to earn a point from range too, but both Joao Moutinho and Saiss blazed over in the closing stages.
Full-time: Liverpool 1 Wolves 0
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson, Wijnaldum (Milner 86), Henderson, Lallana (Keita 67), Mane, Salah, Firmino (Origi 86).
Unused subs: Adrian, Jones, Elliott, Williams.
Wolves: Patricio, Jonny, Bennett, Coady, Kilman, Vinagre, Neves (Saiss 58), Dendoncker (Traore 58), Moutinho, Neto, Jota (Jimenez 72).
Unused subs: Ruddy, Doherty, Otasowie, Cutrone.