Liverpool moved top of the Premier League with a 3-1 comeback win at Wolves as they overcame familiar Saturday lunchtime struggles thanks to goals from Cody Gakpo, stand-in captain Andy Robertson and an own goal from Hugo Bueno.
The Reds failed to win a single one of their six fixtures in this time slot last season and experienced another sluggish start after the international break when Wolves went ahead early on.
Hee-Chan Hwang (7) tucked in at the back post from Pedro Neto’s low cross and, with the home side so dangerous on the counter-attack, the Portuguese winger was causing Joe Gomez all sorts of problems. Indeed, Matheus Cunha should have added a second from a fine Neto cross.
It all turned around in the second half, though, with a couple of Mohamed Salah assists helping Liverpool to a fourth win on the spin.
His first was a cross-shot prodded in by Gakpo (55) and his second a rolled pass for Robertson (85) to drill home after Jose Sa’s poor kick out. He also played a role in the third, teeing up Elliott for a drive from the edge of the box which went in off the post via a telling deflection off Bueno (90+1).
Three of those Liverpool wins have seen them fight back from going behind and their second half showing at Molineux dispelled any concerns which may have been emerging from a lacklustre first half.
They move a point ahead of Man City, who face West Ham at 3pm, while Wolves remain 15th, a couple of points above third-bottom Everton.
Wolves: Sa (5); Semedo (6), Dawson (6), Kilman (6), Ait-Nouri (6); Lemina (5), Gomes (6); Bellegarde (7), Cunha (5), Neto (7); Hwang (7).
Subs: Doherty (6), Silva (6), Bueno (5), Doyle (6), Traore (6)
Liverpool: Alisson (6); Gomez (5), Matip (6), Quansah (7), Robertson (7); Jones (6), Mac Allister (5), Szoboszlai (6); Salah (7), Gakpo (7), Jota (6).
Subs: Diaz (7), Nunez (7), Elliott (7), Konate (6), Gravenberch (N/A)
Player of the match: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
How Liverpool turned it around
While Klopp had teed up the match by complaining about the difficulty of playing in an early kick-off after an international break, Wolves looked refreshed and ready to go after their two weeks away and came flying out of the blocks. They were ahead in a flash.
Neto – the standout performer in the first half – showed confidence, ambition and skill as he drove at the Liverpool defence and his end product was spot on, fizzing the ball through the six-yard box for Hwang to force it home, despite Alisson’s best efforts.
Neto was close to converting a mirror move moments later when Nelson Semedo turned provider but Gomez got a crucial touch. The Liverpool man wouldn’t win many of the battles with Neto in that first 45, though.
- Wolves have made two changes, with summer signing Jean-Ricner Bellegarde making his debut in place of Pablo Sarabia, and Hee-Chan Hwang coming in for Fabio Silva.
- Liverpool made three changes, with Jarell Quansah making his first start and Diogo Jota and Cody Gakpo coming in. Darwin Nunez dropped to the bench with Luis Diaz, and Trent Alexander-Arnold was injured.
With Wolves debutant Jean-Ricner Bellegarde also raiding down the left, Gomez had his hands full. Neto stepped inside to drill just wide, and the winger got the better of the Liverpool full-back before crossing for Cunha – but the Brazilian badly fluffed the chance. Liverpool youngster Jarell Quansah impressed on his first start but was relieved by that let-off from the man he was marking.
Wolves’ only regret from the first half was they didn’t score more and a blocked shot from Salah and saved effort from Dominik Szoboszlai just before the break warned of what was to come.
Diaz was sent on for Alexis Mac Allister at half-time as Liverpool went to a 4-2-4 and the Colombian livewire struck wide seconds into the second period. With Liverpool now dominant, the leveller came soon after.
Salah’s cross-shot was diverted home by Gakpo and the momentum had firmly swung. It was the fifth Premier League away game in a row Salah has assisted – only three other players have achieved that – and it seemed more Liverpool goals would be on the way.
With Gakpo immediately withdrawn after his goal – a move Klopp had been looking to make in the minutes before – his replacement Darwin Nunez shot wide with his first touch and, after Joao Gomes’ volley over from an increasingly rare Wolves foray, the big forward just failed to reach an excellent cross from Gomez.
Elliott’s introduction for Diogo Jota had seen Liverpool revert to 4-3-3 but they continued their re-found ambitious approach. Sa was out quickly to smother a Nunez shot, Szoboszlai shot over and Craig Dawson blocked from Diaz.
But in the final minutes Liverpool crashed through the Wolves defences. Sa’s ill-advised kick out of his hands, when he was trying to launch a counter, went badly wrong when it allowed Robertson to intercept and then combine with Salah to slot in on his 200th Premier League appearance for Liverpool. Salah celebrated a double ton of his own – 200 Premier League goal involvements for the Reds.
And Elliott added further gloss for the visitors when he smacked a Salah pass at goal and saw a clipped deflection off Bueno take it beyond Sa and in off the post. It was a dramatic underlining of the swing in fortunes for both sides after the half-time break.
O’Neil: Strange decision from Sa was costly
Wolves boss Gary O’Neil: “If you look at the two sides, and the gap in quality, it takes a big effort to close that and I thought we did for a very long time with the organisation, structure, quality the players showed which helped us bridge that gap.
“You know you’re not going to be the best side against Liverpool for the whole game and when we were on top we could have taken one or two of our real good situations.
“Then you start to lose some energy, they took control, bring on Nunez, Diaz, you know you need to dig in and hang on and we were at 1-1. Then we make a strange decision and create a bit of chaos and concede a second goal. As soon as you create chaos against Liverpool they’re very good in it. From that point they create a lot of chances. Up until 80 minutes to have pushed Liverpool that close was a big effort from everybody.”
Klopp: The first half was really bad – the second half really good!
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp to TNT Sports: “The good thing about the first half was it was that bad I didn’t think we could play a second half like that. Obviously we wanted to start completely different but for whatever reason it was not possible for the boys. Low energy level, you could see it, for Macca, some others as well, you could see they struggled and we couldn’t change five times at half time. So we thought we’d change the system and one player to give us more natural speed up front.
“We had to control the game better, we changed pretty much everything at half time and that worked out pretty well. The first half was really bad and the second half was really good. Do I want to see that every week? No but I take it. We were bad first half but Wolves were really good as well. They caused us so many problems, especially one on one situations with Neto which we shouldn’t have let happen but we were not able to close the gaps. In the end, a massive three points.”
Opta stats – Mo’s milestones
- Nine of Liverpool’s 13 points in the Premier League this season have come from behind, the most of any side in 2023-24, with Liverpool winning all three of their league matches in which they fell 1-0 behind this season.
- Mo Salah (139 goals, 62 assists) became only the second player to reach 200 Premier League goal involvements for Liverpool, after Steven Gerrard (120 goals, 92 assists).
- Wolves lost a Premier League home game in which they scored first for the first time since March 2022 against Leeds, ending their run of 12 such matches unbeaten (W10 D2).
- Liverpool’s Mo Salah became only the fourth player to register an assist in five consecutive away Premier League appearances, after Muzzy Izzet in December 2003, Cesc Fàbregas in January 2015 and Gerard Deulofeu in December 2015. Home and away, Salah has now recorded a goal (5) or an assist (9) in 11 straight Premier League games.
- In his 200th Premier League appearance for Liverpool, Andy Robertson scored his first league goal for the club since May 2022, which was also against Wolves.
Wolves‘ next game is a trip to Luton on Saturday – kick-off 3pm. Gary O’Neil’s side then travel to Ipswich in the Carabao Cup on September 26 – kick-off 7.45pm.
Liverpool’s next outing is away to Linz ASK on Thursday as they begin their Europa League campaign – kick-off 5.45pm.
Jurgen Klopp’s side then return to Premier League action when they host West Ham on September 24 – kick-off 2pm.