Just when you thought they might drop points for only the second time this season, Liverpool rose tall and got the job done again.
Their lead at the Premier League summit now extends to 16 points, with a game in hand over second-placed Manchester City, who must be left wondering what, if anything, can halt Jurgen Klopp’s side on what is fast becoming a title procession.
Wolves prove to be a tough fight as Reds get closer to promised land
A glance at the fixture list ahead of kick-off pinpointed this as one of Liverpool’s toughest remaining fixtures of the season. When the teams met at Anfield 25 days ago, Wolves were no easy feat as Sadio Mane’s solitary goal proved to be the only difference in a VAR dominated saga.
Battling hard with a determined and well drilled defensive unit, coupled with a fluorescent attacking palette, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side came into the game level on points with Manchester United and Tottenham – six points off a Champions League spot.
Indeed, since the beginning of last season, only Liverpool and Manchester City have managed more points against the top-six opposition than Wolves, who have taken 24.
The ninety minutes that ensued at Molineux reflected just why Jurgen Klopp and his side were razor sharp to the threat their opponents posed to their unbeaten run.
Nuno’s side started the better of the two sides, with early interchanges reflecting their intention to take the game to the league leaders. And yet, such is the quality of this Liverpool side that should you attack them, they inevitably prove to kill you on the counter.
After just eight minutes, Jordan Henderson leapt highest to lower his header into the top corner. As good as the Reds have been in open play, their development from dead-ball situations has been just as instrumental to their successes. This was merely the latest example in a growing line as Trent Alexander-Arnold again delivered the goods from the corner flag.
Despite the early setback, Wolves responded well, winning a corner at the other end just moments after conceding. Quick thinking from Joao Moutinho handed Matt Doherty a golden opportunity to level the score after Ruben Neves curled the ball towards the back post, where the right-back was in acres of space.
Heading wide of the target, it was the first in a considerable flurry of chances for the home side as the first half proved to be as absorbing and intense as the reverse fixture last month.
Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez would both be called into action to thwart Raul Jimenez’s goalward efforts, as the former used his strength and know-how to coolly ease Neto out of play following a bright attack.
At the other end, Mohamed Salah could, and probably should, have doubled Liverpool’s advantage, breaking through on goal with Takumi Minamino, who replaced the injured Sadio Mane, in support.
Reds dig deep second half as Firmino delivers classy winner
Ahead at the interval, the game was by no means over as Liverpool were forced to deep once again to get themselves over the line and one step closer to the promised land.
Mohamed Salah would get the first crack of the whip, capitalising on hesitation by Adam Traore in the middle of the park to strike a fierce shot on Patricio’s goal. A rare mistake from the forward, Traore turned his groove up a dial in the second half, making life incredibly difficult for Andy Robertson on what was an off day by the Scotsman’s high standards.
Indeed, Joe Gomez’s searing pace was required on more than one occasion to prevent Wolves from inflicting damage on the counter, first blocking Neto’s shot before Van Dijk dispossessed a raking run from midfield.
Wolves would eventually get a deserved equaliser for their efforts, and through a familiar channel too, as Traore and Jimenez combined down the right. The duo have combined for eight Premier League goals this season, more than any other partnership in the competition.
It marked the first goal Liverpool have conceded in the top-flight since the 4th December, stretching to 50 days.
An onslaught would follow, with Alisson Becker delivering in decisive moments just as he has done all season to keep the hosts at bay as Klopp’s side looked to weather the storm, palming Traore’s low drive away from danger.
As Wolves attempted to push for a winner, chances fell Liverpool’s way. First, to Mohamed Salah, who opted for the wrong decision yet again, failing to spot the men over and taking the chance on himself.
It marked a rare mistake from the Egyptian as both teams failed to make use of their chance. Firmino was the next at fault for doing so as his shot was beaten away by Patricio’s leg following a slaloming run inside the area.
Frustration at chances not taken? Yes. A lack of belief a winner might land their way? Never.
This Liverpool side, no matter the opponent nor the obstacle, always find a way. Having missed a glorious chance minutes early, Firmino was on hand to provide the telling finish following a brilliant intricate pass by Henderson, marking his sixth goal in his last five away games.
For Henderson, it marked his 35th assist for the club, equalling Philippe Coutinho’s total with Steve McManaman (58) and Steven Gerrard (92) the only players to register more.
The captain’s goal and assist at Molineux was reward for another instrumental performance as he continues to epitomise what this Liverpool side are all about. Tenacious in possession and consistently demanding more from himself and his teammates, Henderson’s energy and passion is underpinning Klopp’s record-breaking side. No one dare question his importance to this side.
A tough away fixture overcome and maximum points taken, this was the kind of display that reflects why Liverpool are destined to be Champions of England come May. They are now only the 5th team in the history of the English Football League to go 40+ games unbeaten.