Daily Mail

Liverpool late show has Anfield rocking again

Van Dijk and Salah nick it for Reds

- IAN LADYMAN Football Editor at Anfield

ARIGHT shoulder and a right thigh. They may not be enough to turn around this season for Liverpool but they turned around this game and for now that feels like more than enough.

With 17 minutes remaining at a rather resigned feeling Anfield, Liverpool did not look winning. Darwin Nunez had just seen a goal ruled out by VAR and as Manchester United rallied at Old Trafford, Sunday’s meeting here with the old enemy was starting to feel like one of those behind the sofa occasions for the home support.

But when Trent Alexander-Arnold delivered a free-kick from the left in the 73rd minute, Virgil van Dijk rose to meet it. The defender missed the ball with his head but it cannoned off his shoulder towards goal. Jose Sa saved but when Diogo Jota returned the ball, Van Dijk headed in convention­ally and his team were in the lead.

With Liverpool and their supporters buoyed, Jurgen Klopp’s team came again down the left four minutes later.er. This time left back Kostasosta­s Tsimikas crossed and

Mo Salah diverteded the ball in quitee intentiona­lly with the fleshy part of his right leg.

It doesn’t matter how they go in and certainly it didn’t here. With Liverpool’ss season threatenin­g - to dissolve afterer last week’s Realeal Madrid humblingg and the league draw att Crystal Palace that followed, games like this one have to be won if Liverpool are to retain any hopes of climbing up to fourth place.

They threatened early on but then pretty soon so did Wolves. That is pretty much the way it goes these days. If it is to change, they need to find a way to control games again. For 45 minutes at least, it was another bits and pieces performanc­e. Some good, some bad and far too much just totally indifferen­t.

Young midfielder Stefan Bajcetic — a ray of light in the Anfield gloom — had a shot on the turn from a Salah cross in the third minute. Had it been directed towards either corner it may well have gone in. Instead Sa stooped to gather comfortabl­y.

Then it was Wolves’ turn. Improved under their coach Julen Lopetegui, they are a more confident side, too. Twice early on they threatened as space in the Liverpool penalty box at the Kop end allowed Joao Moutinho to work Alisson and then, from the corner, a Raul Jimenez overhead kick landed on the head of Pablo Sarabia but his effort flew wide. This, then, was Liverpool in a nutshell. Ambitious but vulnerable. Capable but also flawed. For a while, nothing much more happened. Liverpool’s low confidence was palpable while the home crowd seemed, as heinous as it sounds to say, rather too used to it all. Anfield was very quiet for long periods. Improvemen­t did arrive and Liverpool could and should have scored. Fabinho was breaking up play well in central areas — Liverpool will need some of that on Sunday — and when he did so just before half-time, Jota was able to play Nunez to the left byline. When his cross landed on Harvey Elliott’s head he should have scored but he headed wide from 10 yards.

That was a big chance and Elliott almost made up for a few minutes later. This time the opportunit­y was much harder, Nunez chesting a Alexander-Arnold cross

down to him 18 yards out. The first time shot was crisp but so was the save from Sa low at his left-hand post. That flurry of activity did not transpire to be portentous in terms of what followed. Apart from a long range shot from Alexander-Arnold that was blocked and another Elliott shot gathered by Sa, this remained a sterile affair until Nunez’s disallowed goal in the 66th minute.

Jota’s run from deep was direct and forceful and Nunez’s finish was adept once the ball broke. But VAR were right to refer referee Anthony Taylor to the screen for a check on Jota’s collision with Max Kilman and Taylor was right to scrub out the goal for a foul.

Fabinho was a little lucky to still be on the field by this time. The contact his foot made with the thigh of an opponent early in the second half may have been accidental but the yellow card he received was the least he deserved neverthele­ss.

On Liverpool ploughed, more in hope than expectatio­n. But finally they broke through with just over 15 minutes left through Van Dijk. Wolves had not carried a threat in the second half and soon their night was done when Salah converted his 20th goal of the season.

 ?? REUTERS ?? Stooping to conquer: Virgil van Dijk heads Liverpool ahead
REUTERS Stooping to conquer: Virgil van Dijk heads Liverpool ahead
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