Liverpool kept their bid for a top-four finish on track as two late goals earned them a 2-0 Premier League win over Wolves at Anfield.
The Reds’ hopes of a late push for Champions League qualification looked set to be dented again as they headed into the final 20 minutes with nothing but a disallowed Darwin Nunez strike to show for their efforts.
However, Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah struck in quick succession to claim an important three points ahead of a weekend ᴄʟᴀsʜ with Manchester United.
As for Wolves, they were left unable to continue improving their position after recent improvement under Julen Lopetegui, though they remain three points above the relegation zone.
Liverpool vs Wolves score
LIV — Van Dijk — 73rd min
LIV — Salah — 77th min
Liverpool progress underlined
It would be easy to dismiss this victory as little more than the bare minimum against relegation-threatened opposition.
But do not forget that Liverpool were dismantled by Wolves en route to a 3-0 defeat at Molineux in the reverse fixture just under a month ago.
It is not that all of the Reds’ weaknesses have disappeared since then, of course, but rather that they are doing an increasingly good job of mitigating them.
What’s more, an improved mental strength was evidenced by the refusal to let heads drop after a Nunez strike was ruled out, as well as the late show that sealed all three points.
Fabinho showing encouraging signs
Like Liverpool as a collective, it appears that Fabinho is also making tentative steps towards his best form after a torrid start to this season.
In this game, the Brazilian was sharper in the challenge and more composed in possession than he has looked at any point across the campaign.
Should his form fully recover, that would represent a major boost not just for the games to come, but going into a summer where plenty of midfield surgery is already required.
A huge game awaits
Of course, if Liverpool are to continue putting pressure on fourth-placed Tottenham, they cannot allow their momentum to be halted.
And that surely means collecting all three points from a home game against bitter rivals Manchester United this Sunday.
Erik ten Hag’s ᴍᴇɴ are flying off the back of their League Cup success and travel to Anfield in better shape than they have been for years. A comeback victory over West Ham in the FA Cup on Wednesday has only strengthened their positive mentality.
If Liverpool can somehow come out on top, it is a result that will provide a major confidence boost in their pursuit of the top four.
Liverpool vs Wolves as it happened, highlights
FINAL: Liverpool 2-0 Wolves
FULLTIME: All over at Anfield and Liverpool take the three points courtesy of goals from Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah and a fourth consecutive clean sheet in the Premier League.
89th min: Two changes for Liverpool, James Milner and Roberto Firmino taking the places of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Darwin Nunez.
86th min: Alisson gets Salah away down the left with a truly mammoth throw but the Egyptian can’t pick out Nunez’s run.
80th min: Another change for the Reds as they look to see this game out, Jordan Henderson taking the place of Stefan Bajcetic.
77th min: GOAL! Liverpool have surely got the points wrapped up now!
Salah gets the goal with a slightly unorthodox kneed finish after a quick exchange between Tsimikas and Gakpo had put the former in behind.
75th min: That will be Jota’s last contribution, with the Portuguese leaving the field to be replaced by Gakpo.
73rd min: GOAL! Liverpool lead through Van Dijk!
The Dutchman’s header from an Alexander-Arnold free-kick delivery is repelled by Sa, but Jota is on hand to sᴍᴀsʜ the ball back across goal where his teammate stoops to nod in the opener.
67th min: Liverpool think they’ve opened the scoring through Nunez after a mazy run from Jota feeds the Uruguayan at close range.
However, a VAR check follows, where Paul Tierney spots a foul from Jota in the build-up that results in the goal being chalked off.
63rd min: A double change for Wolves, Daniel Podence and Joao Gomes taking the places of Joao Moutinho and Matheus Nunes.
55th min: Harvey Elliott controls a Nunez pass just inside the box and gets a right-footed shot away that Sa collects with some ease.
53th min: Fabinho in the book for what looked like a Lemina lunge on him. The Wolves man comes off worse, though, and wins the free-kick.
52nd min: Traore gets up against Tsimikas in a one-on-one but fails to ʙᴇᴀᴛ the Greek and puts the ball out for a goalkick.
46th min: Liverpool get the game back under way.
HALFTIME: Just time for Moutinho to see a yellow card for a trip on Tsimikas before a goalless half comes to an end.
45th min (+2): Brilliant save by Sa!
Liverpool win it in midfield again before Nunez chests down to Elliott, but a fine stop prevents his controlled strike from finding the back of the net.
45th min (+1): Four minutes to be added on.
39th min: Huge chance for Liverpool headed wide by Harvey Elliott!
The Englishman meets a Nunez pull-back after Fabinho wins the ball high up and feeds Jota on the left, but he can’t direct his attempt on target.
36th min: Nelson Semedo is shown a yellow card after he catches Bajcetic on the top of the foot with a fractionally late challenge.
33rd min: Jurgen Klopp going ballistic on the touchline after the linesman incorrectly gives a throw-in call against Liverpool.
You sᴜsᴘᴇᴄᴛ the German is mostly frustrated because his team haven’t done much so far.
24th min: Bueno’s night is over, he’s replaced by Ait-Nouri at left-back.
21st min: A break in play now as Hugo Bueno receives treatment for a knock. He doesn’t look happy.
15th min: Bajcetic goes in the book for a trip on Nunes that stops a promising counter. That’s frustration from the Spaniard, who had given the ball away moments earlier.
11th min: Fabinho wins the ball in the Wolves area but wants to pass it instead of taking on the shot himself and that results in the ball being intercepted and cleared.
4th min: Wolves respond immediately, Moutinho forcing Alisson into a save after a wonderful swift exchange of passes in the Liverpool box.
3rd min: Liverpool with the first shot on target of the game but it’s a weak one from Bajcetic after great work from Elliott and Salah.
1st min: Wolves get the game under way – they’ll ᴀᴛᴛᴀᴄᴋ the Kop end in this half.
20 mins from kickoff: A much-needed warm-up on a chilly Anfield evening.
40 mins from kickoff: Naby Keita absent due to a knock this evening, we understand. Another injury setback for the midfielder.
1 hr from kickoff: Here’s the team news from Anfield!
1.5 hrs from kickoff: Some early team news doing the rounds here at Anfield: it’s understood that Darwin Nunez returns to the Liverpool squad after missing out against Crystal Palace. He is expected to come straight back into the starting line-up.
2 hrs from kickoff: Hello and welcome to The Sporting News’ live coverage of Liverpool vs Wolves in the Premier League. These two teams are scrapping at opposite ends of the Premier League table but could both do with a vital three points that would move them closer to their aims ahead of the run-in.
Liverpool vs Wolves lineups
Darwin Nunez and Ibrahima Konate return to the Liverpool starting XI as Klopp makes six changes from a drab goalless draw at Crystal Palace.
Harvey Elliott , Stefan Bajcetic , Fabinho and Kostas Tsimikas are the other players to benefit from the manager choosing to shuffle his pack. Naby Keita misses out entirely after being withdrawn at half-time at Selhurst Park.
Liverpool starting XI (4-3-3) : Alisson (GK) — Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Tsimikas — Elliott, Fabinho, Bajcetic— Salah, Nunez, Jota
Liverpool subs: Kelleher (GK), Gakpo, Robertson, Carvalho, Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Matip, Firmino, Carvalho
Offside via Getty Images
Wolves head coach Lopetegui makes just one alteration to the team that drew 1-1 with Fulham last time out, Joao Moutinho coming in for Matheus Cunha .
The likes of Hwang Hee-chan and Boubacar Traore are among several long-term absentees.
Wolves starting XI (4-2-3-1) : Sa (GK) — Semedo, Dawson, Kilman, Bueno — Neves, Lemina — Sarabia, Moutinho, Nunes — Jimenez
Wolves subs: Bentley (GK), Alt-Nouri, Collins, Neto, Podence, Jonny, Costa, Gomes, Traore