Mohamed Salah keeps run going as Liverpool beat Wolves to boost top-four hopes
Mohamed Salah maintained his record of scoring at least 20 a season every year at Liverpool as his goal helped secure a 2-0 win over Wolves which edged them closer to the Premier League’s top four.
The Egypt international turned home Kostas Tsimikas’s 77th-minute cross to double the lead given to them by Virgil van Dijk’s close-range header moments earlier for his 127th league goal for the club.
It put him one behind Robbie Fowler, who is sixth on the Reds’ all-time league scorers list, and secured a hard-fought victory that took their tally to 10 points from the last 12 and moved them within two wins of fourth-placed Tottenham with a match in hand.
Goals from Liverpool’s two most experienced players on the pitch maintained their momentum which had been in danger of stalling after Saturday’s disappointing goalless draw at Crystal Palace.
Having fielded the club’s oldest starting XI (29 years 218 days) for nearly 70 years at Selhurst Park on Saturday manager Jurgen Klopp freshened things up with six changes, including his whole midfield where he picked 18-year-old Stefan Bajcetic and 19-year-old Harvey Elliott either side of Fabinho.
The two teenagers plus Darwin Nunez caught the eye in the first half with Elliott squandering the best two chances, which did not materialise until five minutes before the break.
Firstly he headed wide from a cross by Nunez, returning after a shoulder problem, when he should have scored and then mis-hit a volley into the turf when the Uruguay international chested down Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross and the bounce gave Jose Sa just enough time to react and turn the shot around the post.
Wolves’ only attempt came after just three minutes when Joao Moutinho, back in the side due to injury to Matheus Cunha, forced a save out of Alisson.
Ten minutes into the second half the Nunez-Elliott link-up came to the fore again when the forward teed up his team-mate but his weak shot was comfortably claimed by Sa.
Nunez has endeared himself to Anfield as much for the unpredictability he brings as the goal threat he poses and a blistering run down the left, skipping past a couple of challenges, was spoiled by a cross too close to Sa.
He thought he had broken the deadlock in the 66th minute when Diogo Jota’s drive from deep appeared to have run into trouble in the penalty area only for the ball to drop to Nunez who shifted it on to his right foot and lashed a shot past Sa.
However, VAR advised referee Paul Tierney to view the pitchside monitor and he ruled out the goal for a foul on Max Kilman by Jota.
But the pressure was building against a relatively toothless Wolves – who had beaten their opponents 3-0 at Molineux earlier this month in arguably Liverpool’s worst display of the season, and it finally told.
Alexander-Arnold’s free-kick was headed goalwards by Van Dijk and Sa could only parry to Jota, who returned the ball into the six-yard where the Netherlands captain was there to nod in.
Six minutes later Salah made the game safe when he turned home Tsimikas’ cross after the left-back had charged down the flank.
In his programme notes Klopp had stressed he thought in recent weeks – the 5-2 Champions League mauling by Real Madrid apart – they have been heading in the right direction and a fourth successive clean sheet for the first time since April was something else to celebrate.