Liverpool 2-0 Wolves: Talking points as hope and glory beckons in defeat

Alam Khan - Reporter 20:15 12/05/2019
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Sadio Mane celebrates

Sadio Mane struck twice to take him joint top of the Premier League goalscoring charts – but Liverpool finished second as their title dream ended in disappointment.

The Reds duly delivered the win they needed in front of a raucious Anfield crowd, but it was not enough after Manchester City’s win at Brighton.

Jurgen Klopp’s men, whose 97 points in this memorable campaign fell one short of City, led from the 17th minute.

Trent Alexander-Arnold exchanged passes with Jordan Henderson and his deflected low cross fell perfectly for Mane to sweep home.

It was the frontman’s 21st goal of the season as he chased Mohamed Salah’s 22 in the race for the golden boot.

But it was the unlikely figure of Andy Robertson who almost claimed a spectacular second when his fierce 25-yard effort was pushed away by Rui Patricio.

The Reds were largely comfortable, but did have a scare a minute before half time when Diogo Jota found Matt Doherty in space and his drive beat Alisson but clipped the bar.

Jota was also denied by Alisson, but Mane settled the outcome nine minutes from time with a diving header from another Alexander-Arnold cross. He joined Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in winning the golden boot.

HOPE AND GLORY BECKONS IN DEFEAT

Liverpool players celebrate

Liverpool players celebrate

In the end it was a brave failure for Liverpool.

They will look back to January 3 as the day the Premier League was lost. The 2-1 defeat at Manchester City provided a momentous shift at the top as a potential 10-point advantage was cut to four.

It was Liverpool’s only defeat of the season and significant in why they still wait for a first top-flight title since 1990.

But, with a Champions League final to follow, they should be proud.

They may not have won the title, have nothing yet to show for their efforts, but this side can stand alongside the great Anfield sides of old.

They have shown that same will to win and ruthlessness that is required to be the very best.

A ninth successive win meant they equalled the club top-flight record of 30, set in the 1978-79 season.

That shows just how good they have been and this is not the end, only the start of something special.

Both Liverpool and City have the quality, the ambition to do it all again.

There is every chance of a title rivalry as there was when Manchester United once battled with Arsenal and Chelsea to remain rulers under Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign.

Now City have replaced their neighbours as top dogs, it is Liverpool who look most likely to be snapping at their heels in the future.

UNSUNG HERO MATIP CAN SAVE MILLIONS 

Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk

Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk

If there was one position where Liverpool fans would say they need to strengthen, it would probably be at centre back and someone to stand tall alongside Virgil van Dijk.

Matthijs De Ligt is the name on everyone’s lips to form a backline of brilliance and few better in club football.

But Joel Matip’s dependable displays will have left them heartened should anyone of De Ligt’s calibre not arrive in the summer.

Jurgen Klopp had seen his qualities in Germany while at Schalke, yet it was difficult to understand such faith when Matip did not entirely convince after his arrival in 2016.

The Cameroon international was probably fourth choice at the start of this campaign, behind van Dijk, Dejan Lovren and also Joe Gomez, who emerged as a fine talent.

Had Gomez not suffered a leg fracture in December, Matip might well have been warming the bench more.

Instead he has not only proved his worth, especially in the Champions League second leg win over Barcelona, but that he can be a reliable starter rather than just a squad player.

With patience and good positioning, he has grown assured, with van Dijk never shy of cajoling something extra from Matip with strong words to strengthen their partnership.

As one of the unsung heroes of this campaign, and with Gomez showing great potential, Matip could save Liverpool millions to use on other parts of the squad.

GOLDEN FUTURE FOR WOLVES

Raul Jimenez battles for the battl with Virgil van Dijk

Raul Jimenez battles for the battl with Virgil van Dijk

It is 2001 since a newly-promoted did so well, when Ipswich came fifth with 66 points.

Coming up from the Championship, most sides just try to avoid relegation.

Not Wolves, who have shown spirit and skill to survive with ease.

Nuno Espirito Santos has produced a classy collective and they have been a breath of fresh air in the top flight.

With a little bit of luck and more composure, they might even have left Anfield with a point.

They have taken 16 points from 12 games against the top six and it shows their relish for such a challenge.

With Raul Jimenez signed permanently and forming an exciting frontline pairing with Diogo Jota, and unheralded players like Conor Coady, Matt Doherty and Jonny gaining more experience at this level, it augurs well.

A place in the Europa League is on the cards should Manchester City win the FA Cup, and it could propel them to even greater heights. They have a golden future.

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