Liverpool - Liverpool fell to a third home defeat in eight
days as they exited the FA Cup in a humbling 2-1 loss to second-tier
Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield on Saturday.
First-half goals from defender Richard Stearman, his first
for the Midlands club in nearly three years, and Andreas Weimann saw Paul
Lambert's side join Swansea and Southampton in tasting success at Anfield in
the space of just over a week.
But, after seeing their team knocked out of the League Cup
by Southampton in midweek, this latest loss was a particular disappointment for
home supporters, who booed their team off the field at half-time.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp opted for an under-strength
team against a team currently positioned just four places above the relegation
zone in English football's second-tier Championship.
Only Georginio Wijnaldum, Ragnar Klavan and Roberto Firmino
could be classified as first-team regulars among Klopp's starting XI and the
gamble backfired before even a minute of the fourth round tie had elapsed.
The hapless Alberto Moreno fouled Dave Edwards and Helder
Costa's superb free-kick was met at the far post by Stearman, whose powerful
header flew across goal and into the Liverpool net.
Wolves' second goal, in the 41st minute, was the result of
even worse Liverpool defending as Matt Doherty's pass was gathered by the
impressive Costa, who held off Moreno far too easily.
His superb pass, into a central position from the right,
found Weimann, sprinting between Joe Gomez and Connor Randall, and the Wolves
forward advanced confidently before touching the ball past Loris Karius and
slotting into an open goal.
Not until the 86th minute did Liverpool manage to breach the
Wolves defence as the visitors failed to clear a Philippe Coutinho corner.
Daniel Sturridge helped the ball across goal and Divock
Origi turned the ball in at the far post.
It might have been worse for Klopp, whose side are 10 points
behind Premier League leaders Chelsea, as his defence in particular struggled
to cope with the committed visitors, roared on by 8 300 Wolves supporters.
Shortly after the opening goal, Nouha Dicko failed to
connect with a shot eight yards out and, in the 10th minute, Costa sprinted
nearly 70 yards, leaving a line of defenders in his wake, before slicing off
While seven-times FA Cup winners Liverpool began to enjoy
more possession, Wolves' solid defending ensured 20-year-old back-up goalkeeper
Harry Burgoyne did not have a first-half save to make.
The closest thing to a Liverpool chance fell to Firmino,
just after the half hour, but his attempted curler flew wide and, at the
interval, Klopp threw on Coutinho.
There was almost an instant response as Ben Woodburn's
free-kick was met by Firmino.
But what appeared a goal bound header struck team mate
Klavan on its way out for a goal-kick.
Wolves, themselves four-time FA Cup winners, albeit the last
in 1960, were being pressed deeper and deeper into their own half, packing 10
men behind the ball for long passages of play.
Coutinho's first sight of goal - and Liverpool's first
on-target effort of the game - ended with a weak 22-yard shot straight at
Burgoyne on the hour.
The Wolves keeper did well to put off Moreno as he
threatened to catch up with Coutinho's long pass into the area moments later
and Klopp increased the pressure further by bringing on England forward
Liverpool appeared unfortunate, and Klopp reacted with fury,
in the 72nd minute when Wolves defender Lee Evans made contact with Ben
Woodburn and the home striker appealed in vain for a penalty.
Wolves's moments of relief were becoming increasingly rare
but the visitors could have put the tie beyond all doubt 10 minutes from time,
however, when Kortney Hause headed a corner goalwards and substitute Jon Dadi
Bodvarsson had a close-range shot blocked by Karius.
Liverpool's goal ensured a frantic finale, with Burgoyne
saving with an outstretched leg to deny Origi an equaliser and Bodvarsson
making an extraordinary run that ended with Lucas clearing his effort off the