Diogo Jota rekindled Liverpool’s Premier League top-four hopes with the winning goal on his return to Molineux in a game that ended with a worrying head injury to Wolves goalkeeper Rui Patricio.
Jota, who joined Liverpool from Wolves in September, drilled a low first-time shot under Patricio to settle a tight contest.
It was a fine way for the Portugal forward to mark his first appearance back at his former employers and it sees the Reds climb to sixth, two points behind West Ham in fifth and five off Chelsea in fourth.
In a game of few clear-cut chances Mohamed Salah saw a late effort ruled out for offside.
However, more distressing for the hosts was the sight of Patricio leaving the pitch on a stretcher after a lengthy delay following a collision with his captain Conor Coady, while trying to prevent the Egyptian from scoring.
Patricio injury echoes Jimenez
The evening started brightly for Wolves who were hoping to win back-to-back games at Molineux for the first time this season.
And while they generally acquitted themselves well, all thoughts of their performance and the result faded late on with Patricio’s injury.
Sat in the stands, Wolves forward Raul Jimenez provided a painful reminder of the dangers that footballers can face while performing their job, with the Mexico international still to return from the fractured skull he sustained against Arsenal in November.
There was a 15-minute delay until John Ruddy was brought on as a concussion substitute to replace the Portugal goalkeeper.
The referee’s assistant did not raise his flag for offside immediately, as is the guidance when the video assistant referee is in use, although it is unclear if an earlier decision would have averted the collision because of the speed at which it unfolded.
While the scenes on the pitch had echoes of Jimenez’s injury, thankfully Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo was able to deliver some immediate post-match news to allay fears over the health of his number one.
“We just had an update now, he’s OK,” said Nuno.
“We have spoken already. He is OK. All these situations when it is the head get us worried. He is going to recover.”
Liverpool show top-four credentials
The defending champions arrived at Molineux after an alarming run of six defeats in their past seven Premier League games.
But this result shows they cannot be discounted from being involved in the final reckoning when it comes to the Champions League places.
As the first half developed so too did Liverpool’s confidence.
And there were plenty of flickers of quality from the Reds, who had looked as though they were ready to pick up from where they left off last season when they so resoundingly won the reverse fixture 4-0 at Anfield in December.
Many of their best moments arrived courtesy of Sadio Mane’s intelligent movement, with the Senegal forward having three good opportunities to score before teeing up Jota’s opener.
That gave Jurgen Klopp’s side a welcome half-time lead for the first time in nine top-flight matches.
Yet while it was an improvement there were also plenty of signs that more must follow.
Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara’s partnership in midfield is a work in progress and despite all their neat interchanges there are still problems in attack which need to be resolved over the remaining weeks of the season.
That was underlined by Jota, Salah, Ozan Kabak and Mane all failing to add to their tally when presented with reasonable opportunities to make life more comfortable for the Reds.
More to follow.
- 11Rui PatrícioSubstituted forRuddyat 90+11′minutes
- 27SaïssBooked at 52mins
- 22Nélson SemedoSubstituted forGibbs-Whiteat 84′minutes
- 8NevesBooked at 37minsSubstituted forDendonckerat 76′minutes
- 28João Moutinho
- 19Castro Otto
- 12Da SilvaSubstituted forFábio Silvaat 70′minutes
- 17Fábio Silva
- 6Thiago AlcántaraBooked at 42minsSubstituted forKeitaat 67′minutes
- 5WijnaldumSubstituted forMilnerat 67′minutes
- 20JotaSubstituted forOxlade-Chamberlainat 82′minutes
- 46R Williams
- 76N Williams
Match ends, Wolverhampton Wanderers 0, Liverpool 1.
Second Half ends, Wolverhampton Wanderers 0, Liverpool 1.
Attempt saved. Fábio Silva (Wolverhampton Wanderers) with an attempt from very close range is saved in the top centre of the goal.
Attempt missed. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) left footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Naby Keita.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Leander Dendoncker.
Attempt missed. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Liverpool) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Trent Alexander-Arnold with a cross following a set piece situation.
Foul by Willy Boly (Wolverhampton Wanderers).
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Leander Dendoncker (Wolverhampton Wanderers).
Nathaniel Phillips (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Wolverhampton Wanderers. John Ruddy replaces Rui Patrício because of an injury.
Offside, Liverpool. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain tries a through ball, but Mohamed Salah is caught offside.
Foul by Adama Traoré (Wolverhampton Wanderers).
Andrew Robertson (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Morgan Gibbs-White replaces Nélson Semedo.
Offside, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Romain Saïss tries a through ball, but Adama Traoré is caught offside.
João Moutinho (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Liverpool).
Substitution, Liverpool. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaces Diogo Jota.
Attempt saved. Diogo Jota (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Mohamed Salah.