Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Match Report:Liverpool 0 Wolves 1


Wolves beat Liverpool for the first time in 27 years to climb off the foot of the Premier League table and pile pressure on Reds manager Roy Hodgson.
Stephen Ward's crisp finish from Sylvan Ebanks-Blake's pass 11 minutes into the second half proved enough to give Mick McCarthy's men a famous victory.
Raul Meireles wasted a dismal Liverpool's best chance early on when he shot straight at Wayne Hennessey.
And Martin Skrtel's late headed goal was rightly ruled out for offside.
That scare aside, Wolves had little trouble in holding on for their first league away win of the season and their first over the Reds since little-known striker Steve Mardenborough gave them a victory at Anfield in 1984.
In truth McCarthy's side, so often unable to turn impressive performances into points, were fully worthy of all three on an evening when Liverpool looked totally devoid of any creative spark.
Before the match, Hodgson had expressed the hope that his players would be fresh rather than rusty after an 18-day break from league commitments due to two successive postponements.
But even the return of skipper Steven Gerrard from a six-week injury layoff could not inspire Liverpool.
The first half was an instantly forgettable affair with the only chance of note falling to Meireles inside six minutes.
A quick free-kick from Fernando Torres released the Portuguese midfielder through on goal but his weak shot was comfortably saved by the advancing Hennessey.
From then on Wolves more than held their own, enjoying plenty of possession in the Liverpool half, without really creating any clear-cut openings.
Their only shot of the first period was a long-range strike from top-scorer Ebanks-Banks which trickled tamely wide.
Steven Gerrard did his best to energise Liverpool, but with Fernando Torres once again out-of-sorts, and Dirk Kuyt looking uncomfortable in a left-sided role, there was very little fluidity to the home side's play.
The Reds carved the first opening of the second period as Glen Johnson's pull-back found Ngog but the Frenchman hooked wide from six yards.
Wolves defender Ronald Zubar was slightly closer with his shot on the turn as he forced Pepe Reina, on his 200th Premier League appearance, into a low save.
It was an omen of things to come as in the 56th minute the visitors took the lead after a mix-up between Skrtel and Sotirios Kyrgiakos allowed Ebanks-Blake's through-ball to squeeze between them.
Ward showed good pace to beat the advancing Reina to the ball and poke a low finish into the corner.
Hodgson sent on Ryan Babel and Joe Cole in pursuit of an equaliser but it was Wolves who came closest to scoring, when only a last-gasp block by Johnson prevented Jarvis making it 2-0.
Two minutes from time, Skrtel's header from Gerrard's free-kick flew in past Hennessey but replays showed several Liverpool players had strayed offside.

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