Liverpool’s distaste for lunchtimes has been legendary in recent times under Jürgen Klopp, so at Molineux they turned up at 1.30pm.
Last season Klopp failed to win any of his matches that kicked off at this time, but here was a victory which extended their unbeaten run to 16 Premier League matches.
It was a turnaround win which will save Klopp from any uncomfortable questions over his team selection, with a late goal from Andrew Robertson – on his 200th league appearance for the club – and and own goal after a snap shot from Harvey Elliot.
Darwin Nunez was introduced for the second half and instantly injected some urgency into his team, despite only returning late from international duty on Friday.
In the first half Liverpool were abject, with the absence of the suspended Virgil Van Dijk and injured Trent Alexander-Arnold only increasing fears that a lack of defensive depth could be a major concern after the summer rebuild.
Wolves were outstanding in the opening 45 minutes, taking a seventh-minute lead through Hee Chan-Hwang.
This is a team, remember, who Julen Lopetegui feared were not good enough for the Premier League.
Lopetegui walked out before the start of the season amid concerns that the squad was heading for another relegation battle following over £140 million of player sales.
Wolves swarmed all over Liverpool, pressing them into mistakes and hustling them out of possession. The Liverpool defence endured a chastening afternoon, with Joe Gomez and Joel Matip vulnerable in a back-four which included 20 year old Jarell Quansah making his full debut.
Pedro Neto was a constant threat while midfielders Mario Lemina, Joao Gomes and new signing Jean-Ricner Bellegarde were relentless in their missions to disrupt and unsettle.
Yet the failure to add a second goal always left Wolves in danger, and the introduction of Luis Diaz for Alexis Mac Allister made an instant difference.
Suddenly, Liverpool appeared more dangerous and they were level 11 minutes into the second half when Cody Gakpo converted at the far post.
Wolves had lost their fluency and Liverpool’s second goal came four minutes from time when Robertson picked up Salah’s pass and squeezed the ball past Sa.
Elliott lifted Liverpool to the top of the table with a goal in injury time, and Wolves will wonder how this all unfolded.
Liverpool lift second-half tempo to get past Wolves: as it happened
02:59 PM BST
Jurgen Klopp speaks
The good thing about the first half was that it was that bad I didn’t think we could play a second half like that. Obviously we didn’t want to start like that but you could see a low energy level, ‘Macca’ and some others struggling but we couldn’t make five changes at half-time. We thought we’d change the system and one player to give us more speed up front. We had control of the game better. It worked out pretty well.
The first half was really bad and the second was really good. Do I want to see that every week? No but we’ll take it. It’s a massive three points. Wolves were really good and that’s the truth. They caused us so many problems in one on ones with Neto we shouldn’t let happen but we couldn’t close the gaps.
We have a really, really good squad. a super bench today. But even with quality you can play really bad. We take both. We can work on the first half and work on the second too this week.
[On Robertson] Super-consistent, top bloke a really good guy. A world-class left defender.
02:50 PM BST
Andy Robertson is man of the match
"He probably only gets credit when he gets goals now, which is slightly unfair."
Andy Robertson sums up the importance of Mo Salah after his two assists today ✊ pic.twitter.com/Wpws3UB23a
— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) September 16, 2023
After this clip, BT commentator, Darren ‘Fletch’ Fletcher, asks for and is given Robertson’s shirt. Hmmmm. Objectivity and its appearance requires an arm’s length approach.
Jurgen Klopp is next up for interview in five minutes.
02:34 PM BST
Full time: Wolves 1 Liverpool 3
Wolves had the initiative after a hugely promising and effective first-half performance bar the finishing but Liverpool exploited the fact they had only conceded one goal, rallied and bossed the second half.
Wolves showed enough to suggest they are good enough if they can make the most of their counter-attacking strength. Liverpool move to the top of the league and showed enough to suggest they are still slow starters when forced to be the early match but have enough attacking weapons to trouble anyone.
02:30 PM BST
90+11 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 3
Wolves are held at arm’s length as the ground empties.
02:28 PM BST
90+9 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 3
An on we go, more time added on for Elliott’s excursion into the Liverpool end.
02:27 PM BST
90+7 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 3
Gravenberch pulls off a couple of flicks and feints in the box before losing the ball and hitting the deck. Two minutes earlier Sa juggled a Diaz shot and grabbed it at the second attempt.
02:25 PM BST
90+4 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 3
Liverpool took their time to get going but they have capitalised on Wolves’ first half wastefulness when they did.
Dawson has had to go off injured and Wolves are chewing about Nunez not being penalised for a ‘foul’ on him in the build-up to the third.
Gravenberch ⇢ Salah.
02:19 PM BST
Wolves 1-3 Liverpool (Bueno og) Elliott’s left-foot shot was heading wide when it nicked Bueno’s heel and crept in at the right post. Elliott is booked for going into the crowd to celebrate the goal. It was set up by Nunez’s powerful run after clashing with Dawson. He set up Salah for a shot that was blocked but with his second bite of the cherry he cuts it back to Elliott 18 yards out to shoot.
HARVEY ELLIOTT MAKES IT THREE! 💫
Liverpool will go 🔝 of the Premier League pic.twitter.com/xaedCjOSnO
— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) September 16, 2023
02:18 PM BST
90 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 2
Looks like eight minutes of stoppage time are coming.
02:18 PM BST
88 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 2
Robertson saves the day for Liverpool to climb and do enough to interfere with Doherty’s back-post header from Bueno’s cross.
02:14 PM BST
Wolves 1-2 Liverpool (Robertson) Calm finish after a lovely one-two with Salah. Jose Sa casually kicked a clearance from the corner straight to him 30 yards out. The left-back controlled it, dribbled 10 yards, rolled it to Salah who gave it back with no one tracking his run, allowing him all the time he needed for a cute finish past the hapless Jose Sa.
02:13 PM BST
84 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 1
Diaz bustles through a couple of challenges at the edge of the box and, although he was fouled, the ball breaks to Elliott whose shot is blocked.
Liverpool work it back out to Diaz on the left of the box and his shot is blocked by Dawson and goes out for a corner.
02:12 PM BST
82 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 1
Quansah has got cramp and for some reason Oliver stops the game to allow him to receive treatment. Weird indulgence. A minute later he goes down again and is replaced by Konate.
Klopp, predictably, is going spare at the fourth official for unfathomable reasons. Oliver was doing Liverpool a favour there. He should have played on. Cramp shouldn’t stop a game.
02:09 PM BST
80 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 1
Wolves’ appeal for a penalty when Semedo’s shot hits Matip on the elbow. In the same move and also unpunished, Gomez yanked Neto’s shirt as he tried to bomb into the box.
02:08 PM BST
78 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 1
Quick passing on the edge of the box between Diaz and Nunez ends with them being squeezes out of space before they can get a viable shot away. Wolves are sitting perilously deep in this half but it has meant the penalty box is absolutely rammed when Liverpool try to work it through the middle.
02:06 PM BST
76 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 1
Traore ⇢ Bellegarde
Doyle ⇢ Lemina.
Both departees have faded.
02:04 PM BST
74 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 1
Szoboszlai blazes a left-foot shot over from 25 yards.
02:03 PM BST
72 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 1
Michael Oliver is booed when Lemina is penalised for robbing Szoboszlai by arcing a leg round to poke the ball away. He would have had half the field to himself had he been allowed to run on. But the referee judged it a foul. Not sure it was.
02:01 PM BST
70 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 1
Good save from Jose Sa after Liverpool work Nunez free on the left of the box with some slick, short passing between Szoboszlai and Diaz. He’s maybe six yards out and Jose Sa and Kilman closing him down, meaning he tries to go under their dives but the keeper makes the block and, though it rebounds on to Kilman’s hand, there was no way he could get out of the way.
01:58 PM BST
67 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 1
The half-time analysis is seeming pretty sound. Wolves have set up so deep this half, or have been forced to do so, that it’s like night and day.
01:53 PM BST
64 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 1
Hugo Bueno ⇢ Ait-Nouri
01:53 PM BST
62 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 1
Nunez beats Semedo and Doherty to thump in a low cross that hits a thicket of Wolves’ legs. Liverpool recycle it out to the right and Salah crosses but Nunez is asleep at the back post. He doesn’t buy a ticket and hence can’t win the lottery, is the gist of the analysis from ‘JJ’ and ‘Fletch’.
01:51 PM BST
60 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 1
Double Wolves substitution:
Matt Doherty ⇢ Hwang
Fabio Silva ⇢ Matheus Cunha.
Doherty’s makeover, beard and hairstyle, is something to behold. He looks, well, let’s find a picture when one lands and you can make your own judgment.
01:48 PM BST
58 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 1
Best Wolves move of the half, working one-twos with Semdo and Hwang down their right. Quansah heads out the cross only as far as Joao Gomes who controls it and smashes a volley that doesn’t trouble Alisson.
01:46 PM BST
56 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 1
It doesn’t spare them the big Liverpool curly finger, though – double Liverpool change:
Elliott ⇢ Diogo Jota
Nunez ⇢ Gakpo.
01:43 PM BST
Wolves 1-1 Liverpool (Gakpo) Jota and Gakpo were about to get hooked but they combined to score the equaliser, Jota taking Diaz’s short pass in the D. He held off a challenge and reversed it two yards to to the right of the box through a defender’s legs for Salah to shoot/cross low. Jose Sa is bypassed and Gakpo is Johnny on the Spot to slot in the rebound from 18 inches.
Salah puts it on a plate for Gakpo! 🍽
Liverpool are back in the game at Molineux 🔴 pic.twitter.com/GRyg7spn9o
— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) September 16, 2023
01:42 PM BST
52 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 0
Much better from Liverpool to work the ball past Lemina in midfield as Robertson barges past to charge forward and play in Diaz down the left. The winger shoots on the angle and Semedo slides in well to block and ricochet the ball off Diaz and out for a goal-kick.
01:38 PM BST
50 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 0
Cunha powers down the left, past Gomez and Jota who is now playing deeper and tasked with helping the right-back. They can’t stop the Brazil forward making the byline to thump a cross/shot that Alisson gathers after a little juggle.
01:36 PM BST
48 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 0
Chance for Liverpool: Szoboszlai wedges a diagonal from right to the left of the box, 40 yards. Robertson meets it on the volley with a first-time centre and Diaz flashes his effort wide.
01:35 PM BST
46 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 0
A lot of talk at half-time doubting whether Wolves can maintain the intensity of their energy.
01:33 PM BST
Luis Diaz ⇢ Alexis Mac Allister
01:22 PM BST
Half-time: Wolves 1 Liverpool 0
Wolves break again like lightning after blocking the shots and Matheus Cunha spurns another golden opportunity to shoot with a poor touch. Bellegarde is a throw-back. A properly exciting, scurrying, pest of a midfielder who isn’t only destructive but makes loads of ground with his dribbling.
Liverpool need to find a way to help Gomez deal with Pedro Neto and do something about defensive midfield. Endo or Gravenberch for Jones would free Mac Allister from his fish out of water role and Nunez would give them some punch. Gakpo is a very good wide forward. He is not a Premier League standard centre-forward yet.
Wolves should be three up. Their profligacy, in stark contrast to their excellent creative work and dominance on the flanks and through midfield, could cost them dearly.
01:18 PM BST
45 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 0
Two minutes’ stoppage time are signalled. Liverpool almost steal an equaliser when Sa flapped at a Robertson cross and sliced his punch straight to Salah 14 yards out. He shoots but Ait-Nouri throws himself in to block then Lemina and Sa stop Szoboszlai’s follow-up. About six Wolves players are horizontal after chucking their bodies into the breach.
01:15 PM BST
44 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 0
Gakpo meets a long diagonal into the box with a flashing header from 15 yards that sails over.
01:14 PM BST
41 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 0
Bellegarde wins the ball and gets his head up to pass exactly to where Pedro Neto is pointing. The winger takes the ball in his stride, leaving Gomez in his wake. He, too, looks up and picks his option, one of maybe three and it’s the wrong one, chipping it back to the 18-yard line for Matheus Cunha who half-controls it and gives Bellegarde a chance to nip in and blast a shot at Quansah.
01:10 PM BST
38 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 0
Liverpool work a good triangle down the left that puts Robertson in behind Semedo. He strikes the cross first-time on the half-volley and Gakpo arrives, 15 yards out to side-foot an admittedly bobbling ball wide. Shank.
01:06 PM BST
36 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 0
Neto has Gomez on toast. He takes a long diagonal on his chest then pokes the ball between Gomez’s legs and hares round. Neto runs into the box and stands up the perfect cross for Matheus Cunha who makes a total Horlicks of it, jumping and missing it with his head but wearing it flush in the goolies instead. He had to score. Completely misjudged the flight. All he had to do was stand and meet it.
01:03 PM BST
35 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 0
Mac Allister is a wonderful player but he is not a No6. No way.
01:03 PM BST
33 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 0
Free header for Dawson at the back post from the corner. Or it would have been had Joao Gomes not got the faintest of glances on it. It makes the ball come at a rather more awkward angle and Dawson cannot adjust his leap, ending up heading it back into the crowd.
01:01 PM BST
31 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 0
Bellegarde scurries down the inside right, making 20 yards. He’s like a wasp. He feeds the ball to the left and it is centred for Hwang who takes the cross on his chest, narrowing the angle but still getting his shot away and Alisson turns it behind for a corner.
12:59 PM BST
29 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 0
Wolves break again, this time up the left and it takes Szoboszlai’s diligence and athleticism to get back and snuff it out. Mistake by Mac Allister set Wolves on their way.
12:58 PM BST
28 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 0
‘Gakpo looks lost’ through the middle says Jermaine Jenas after Jota gets down the left, beating Semedo and sends over a daisycutter of a cross that would have been a tap-in for a ‘Johnny on the spot’ centre-forward. Gakpo was eight yards behind.
12:56 PM BST
26 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 0
Gomez now goes down the touchline and floats over a cross that Ait-Nouri nods back to Jose Sa.
12:55 PM BST
24 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 0
Liverpool free-kick, 35 yards out, left of centre. Robertson stands over it but Szoboszlai takes, dinking it to the right of the penalty spot where Kilman wins a bread and butter header.
12:54 PM BST
22 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 0
Liverpool can’t make the ball stick. Wolves are all over them. Lemina has just picked off Matip as he tried to drive up the middle. You have to make like a Buffalo Gal and go round the outside.
12:51 PM BST
20 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 0
Lemina, Pedro Neto and Ait-Nouri triple team Salah when Liverpool’s talisman is found wide on the right. They smother him and Ait-Nouri pinches the ball off him.
12:50 PM BST
18 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 0
There’s a pattern emerging in which Liverpool probe without a great sense of urgency until Wolves win the ball back and break. This time Bellegarde nicks it and bombs off, looking for Pedro Neto as usual and he hares up the left to cross. Liverpool, even with Gomez trying to play the Alexander-Arnold hybrid role and bolstering midfield, look very vulnerable on the break.
12:47 PM BST
15 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 0
Wolves earn another corner from Pedro Neto’s tenacity but Alisson plucks it out of the air.
12:45 PM BST
13 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 0
Better from Liverpool and Szoboszlai to set up Diogo Jota for an angled shot which he blazes over the bar.
12:44 PM BST
11 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 0
Matheus Cunha gives Quansah a scare with an aggressive run.Wolves are so quick to hound Liverpool and they can’t find the space to pick a pass.
12:43 PM BST
9 min: Wolves 1 Liverpool 0
Liverpool, so far, can’t cope with Wolves’ press and their own vulnerability down the flanks.
12:37 PM BST
Wolves 1-0 Liverpool (Hwang) Excellent counter-attacking goal, ripping a gaping hole down the right of Liverpool’s defence. The ball was played up to Matheus Cunha just outside the centre circle in his own half. He spins on it and plays it out to Pedro Neto on the left but, crucially, Cunha then continues his run up the left in support, taking a man with him. Neto drives into the box and whips over a cross through the six-yard box, just out of Alisson’s reach and Hwang meets it beyond the far post, with Robertson napping, to stab it through Alisson’s frantic dive.
Neto's assist 😮💨
Hee-chan's finish 💥
Wolves take an early lead against Liverpool 🐺 pic.twitter.com/E5RtxnoHwX
— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) September 16, 2023
12:36 PM BST
6 min: Wolves 0 Liverpool 0
Matheus Cunha exposes Mac Allister’s lack of pace by accelerating past him on the dribble and the World Cup winner sticks out an arm to grab him. He makes hardly any contact, brushing him at best, but the referee whistles for a free-kick and books him as well.
The ball is played short to Bellegarde from the free-kick and he whips in a cross that Liverpool head out but Wolves then hound them back and stop the counter.
12:34 PM BST
4 min: Wolves 0 Liverpool 0
Szoboszlai plays a good, early ball into the box, expecting Gakpo to have anticipated it and made a run beyond Dawson but Gakpo didn’t read it.
12:33 PM BST
3 min: Wolves 0 Liverpool 0
Effervescent start from Bellegarde who drives down the left, nutmegs Gomez and scurries into the box to cross. Matip sticks out a leg and blocks it behind for a corner that Liverpool defend stoutly.
12:31 PM BST
1 min: Wolves 0 Liverpool 0
Wolves kick off, attacking from left to right and they launch it up their left for Pedro Neto to chase but it goes over his and Gomez’s head and out for a Liverpool throw.
12:29 PM BST
But first ...
A minute’s silence for victims of the Morocco and Libya earthquakes.
12:29 PM BST
If Jarell Quansah has a good game?
When will someone write that he should play for England in October? I’d plump for 2.45pm.
12:27 PM BST
Out come the teams
Both sides in their home kits, thankfully. Last year Wolves marmalised Liverpool at Molineux and were 2-0 up in 12 minutes.
12:18 PM BST
A marathon not a sprint
12:16 PM BST
Having a wager?
Having a bet on today’s match? First take a look at these free bets and betting offers.
12:13 PM BST
Jean-Ricner Bellegarde makes his Wolves debut
A deadline day signing from Strasbourg for £12.8 million. “He’s been excellent in training, very, very good,” Gary O’Neil said on Thursday of the dynamic, titchy midfielder. “His approach and his work ethic and how well he understands what you ask have been good.
“And there’s no fuss. He never questions what’s been asked of him and he has a really good understanding of it and is willing to do it until you blow the whistle and tell him to stop.
“He has a fantastic attitude, quality and athleticism.
12:09 PM BST
Liverpool's team sheet
Suggests Jarell Quansah will start in his primary position of centre-half rather than right-back, a role he has played in the past. Joe Gomez, also a centre-back by trade, will cover for Trent Alexander-Arnold ... if that were possible. T A-A is not fit enough for a place on the bench but Ibrahim Konaté is.
11:59 AM BST
And now for those of you watching in black and white
Wolves Jose Sa; Semedo, Dawson, Kilman, Ait Nouri; Joao Gomes, Lemina, Bellegarde; Pedro Neto, Matheus Cunha, Hwang.
Substitutes Bentley, Doherty, Traore, Silva, Hugo Bueno, Kalajdzic, Doyle, Sarabia, Gomes.
Liverpool Alisson; Gomez, Quansah, Matip, Robertson; Szoboszlai, Mac Allister, Jones; Salah, Gakpo, Jota.
Substitutes Kelleher, Endo, Konate, Diaz, Nunez, Elliott, Tsimikas, Gravenberch, Bajcetic.
Referee Michael Oliver (Ashington)
11:52 AM BST
Quansah, Gakpo and Jota start for Liverpool
🔴 #WOLLIV TEAM NEWS IS IN!
Here’s how we line up at Molineux this afternoon:
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 16, 2023
11:51 AM BST
Wolves give debut to Bellegarde
— Wolves (@Wolves) September 16, 2023
03:56 PM BST
Rock on, Tommy
Good afternoon and welcome to coverage of Liverpool’s visit to Molineux. Wolves start the day in 15th after a victory over Everton at Goodison and three defeats but they are not without hope. Liverpool, with 10 points from their four games, were beaten 3-0 by Julen Lopetegui’s side last February and Gary O’Neil, Wanderers’ new manager, led Bournemouth to a 1-0 victory over the Red Men at Dean Court last spring, a result which exemplified their recovery under him since the 9-0 mauling at Anfield overseen by Scott ‘Scottie’ Parker.
And yet Liverpool looked so comfortable during their 3-0 victory over a well-regarded Villa side last time out and played with such clinical intelligence to come back with 10-men to beat Newcastle at St James’ Park that it is little wonder they are such strong favourites to win. Everyone has reported fit after international duty and, though Virgil van Dijk is serving an additional one-match suspension for initially refusing to depart when sent off at Newcastle and sits out today, only Thiago of the pre-break casualty list is without hope of turning out today. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ibrahim Konaté are nearing full fitness and may play some part.
Wolves have everyone bar young Joseph Hodge available but his fellow Man City Academy alumnus, Tommy Doyle, grandson of Mike Doyle and also for George Best’s victim Glyn Pardoe, for those of this author’s age, should be in line to make his first start having joined on loan on deadline day. If you haven’t seen him play, Doyle is a throwback box-to-box midfielder, ‘an 8’ in current parlance, who could give Wolves a new dimension alongside Joao Gomes and Mario Lemina in midfield. His signing, and the fact they have been scoring even though they have not been winning, are the main reasons I think they will be all right this season, whatever happens today.
And what of Liverpool’s deadline day signing, Ryan Gravenberch? He has had two weeks at Liverpool, untroubled by a call-up, but has played only nine minutes of football this season making it mire likely that Jürgen Klopp will stick with a midfield trio of Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai and either Curtis Jones, Harvey Barnes or possibly even Stefan Bajcetic.