Runaway leader Liverpool extended its Premier League advantage to 16 points with a hard-fought 2-1 victory at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Thursday thanks to goals from Jordan Henderson and Roberto Firmino.
But Wolves, under coach Nuno Espirito Santo, has built a reputation for upsetting more illustrious opponents and came roaring back in the 51st when Raul Jimenez steered home a powerful header from the lively Adama Traore’s cross.
Both sides squandered chances in a breathless game of counter-attacks, before Firmino found space in the box to settle the outcome with an 84th minute strike that gave Liverpool a 14th consecutive league win. It was the Brazilian’s sixth goal in his last eight games for the club in all competitions.
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp punched the air and the fans sang “We shall not be moved” as the relentless Reds closes in on its first top-flight title in three decades.
But Klopp, whose team missed out to Manchester City last season by one point, was taking nothing for granted.
“It’s over when it’s over, not before. So why should we really think about it? Let’s carry on,” he said, praising “super, super” Firmino and “unbelievable” Henderson for their match-winning performances.
Laughing at his goal from a rare offensive foray on a set-piece, captain Henderson echoed his manager’s words that the title was not in the bag - even though the whole of England thinks it is - and praised Wolves’ impressive resistance.
“You know it’s going to be difficult here. They’re a good team, they make you work. But we knew we could keep going, keep fighting,” he said.
The win put Liverpool on 67 points and it still has a game in hand over both defending champion Manchester City, which has 51 points, and Leicester City, which has 48.
Wolves is seventh, level on 34 points with Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United which is all six points behind fourth-placed Chelsea in the Champions League qualifying spot. Nuno, serenaded throughout by the adoring home fans, was delighted with his team even in defeat against a Liverpool side which had not conceded in its previous seven league games.
“It was a good performance, a fantastic game of football,” he said. “We played good, we had the momentum in the second half, we created a lot of chances.”
Liverpool’s only sour note was a first-half injury to striker Sadio Mane. “It’s probably a muscle, he felt something in the hamstring, we don’t know yet,” Klopp said.
Even with Virgil van Dijk commanding Liverpool’s defence as imperiously as ever, Wolves was undaunted and came at it time-and-again, often thanks to Traore’s pace and strength. Matt Doherty should have buried a header soon after Liverpool’s first goal, and Jimenez blasted at Alisson in a one-on-one from a tight angle in the second period.