Wolves 0 Liverpool 1 (Jota 45)
Wolves fell to a narrow defeat to reigning Premier League champions Liverpool on a night which was overshadowed by a serious injury to goalkeeper Rui Patricio.
The Wolves keeper had to be carried from the pitch in the final minutes of the match following a collision, after former Wolves forward Diogo Jota had come back to haunt his old side with the last kick of the first-half. Although Nuno Espirito Santo’s men pushed hard for an equaliser, their efforts were left in vain.
Making just the one change from the side which played out a goalless draw with Aston Villa last time out, with Willy Boly returning from injury in place of Leander Dendoncker, who dropped to the bench, Wolves started the brighter of themselves at Liverpool and even had early calls for a penalty.
A cross from Adama Traore was juggled by Alisson and the ball fell to Nelson Semedo, but the Liverpool goalkeeper looked to have pulled the Wolves wing-back down inside the penalty area as he attempted to recover the ball, but referee Craig Pawson waved away the gold and black appeals.
Wolves continued to push the visitors backwards, and had a first chance to open the scoring when Traore played Semedo in behind the Liverpool defence, but having switched the ball onto his left foot and cut inside, his low effort was pushed away by Alisson.
The contest was becoming end to end throughout the first-half, with Liverpool’s front three of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and former Wolves man Jota causing problems, but Wolves were comfortably dealing with the pressure.
But the hosts were causing problems of their own in attack, with Traore and Willian Jose linking several times before their partnership broke down at the crucial moment as they moved into the final third of the pitch.
It took more than 35 minutes for the visitors to truly trouble Patricio for the first time on the night. Trent Alexander-Arnold got into space on the Liverpool right and lifted a cute cross into the centre of the Wolves penalty area and onto the head of Mane, but the striker’s diving effort flew narrowly wide of the upright.
Wolves then had their best chance of the opening 45 minutes just before the break, Jonny was played into space down the left and his cross into the box is headed out only as far as Ruben Neves who steadied himself before firing a shot from just inside the penalty area, but his effort missed across goal.
Moments after Wolves almost broke the deadlock, it was the visitors who took the lead on the stroke of half-time. The ball found its way to Jota, via his attacking teammates, and the former Molineux hero hit a sweet strike into the bottom corner, although Patricio got a glove to the ball, he was unable to keep the ball out.
Half-time: Wolves 0 Liverpool 1
Wolves began the second-half in similar fashion as they played in the first, positive and attack-minded, and could have pulled a goal back almost immediately when a perfectly-weighted Romain Saiss cross found the head of Conor Coady, but the captain was unable to keep his effort down, and it missed narrowly over the crossbar.
Jose and Traore were not quite on the same wavelength once again, with the Brazilian putting too much power on a through pass to the Spaniard who would have been in the clear.
But Traore used his pace to good effect moments later when he powered past Ozan Kabak and fired a cross right into the centre of the penalty area, but Alisson just got there ahead of anyone in a gold and black shirt. The winger then had a chance of his own, but his driven shot from 20 yards was straight at the Liverpool keeper.
Patricio had to be alert to firstly deny Salah at stretch, who got behind the Wolves defence and aimed a shot to wards the far post, before the ball came out to Jota, but his effort was straight at the Wolves number 11.
Morgan Gibbs-White entered the fray with just over five minutes of the game remaining, and seconds after coming off the bench, the midfielder was played through on goal, but his heavy touch saw the ball roll to Alisson.
In the closing moments of the game, Liverpool had the ball in the back of the net through Salah, but the assistant’s flag went up as the striker turned the ball home. However, with play continuing under VAR rules, Patricio took a heavy blow to the head, which left the keeper down on the ground with a serious injury and needing to be carried from the pitch.
Although Wolves had already made all three of their regularly allocated substitutions, due to the newly introduced concussion subs rule, John Ruddy came on for his first Premier League appearance of the season, but in circumstances nobody would have wanted to see.
During a prolonged period of added time, which was already set to be seven minutes before the lengthy injury stoppage, Salah had a chance for the visitors which he curled wide of the post, but Fabio Silva had the final opportunity to level the game for Wolves, but he was unable to get power into his header from close range.
Full-time: Wolves 0 Liverpool 1
Wolves: Patricio (Ruddy 90), Semedo (Gibbs-White 84), Boly, Coady, Saiss, Jonny, Neves (Dendoncker 76), Moutinho, Traore, Neto, Jose (Silva 69).
Unused subs: Hoever, Marques, Kilman, Vitinha.
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Kabak, Robertson, Fabinho, Thiago (Keita 67), Wijnaldum (Milner 67), Salah, Jota (Oxlade-Chamberlain 81), Mane.
Unused subs: Adrian, N. Williams, R. Williams, Tsimikas, Jones, Shaqiri.
Referee: Craig Pawson