Liverpool moved back to joint first in the Premier League table with a thumping 4-0 victory over Wolves at Anfield.
Soundtracked by 2,000 fans on the Kop, the Reds were at their ruthless best and netted goals through Mohamed Salah, Georginio Wijnaldum, Joel Matip, and a Nelson Semedo own goal in an efficient performance.
To add more lustre to a goods night work, Trent Alexander Arnold and Naby Keita — two recent injury absentees — returned to the fold as substitutes, with Alexander Arnold immediately picking up where he left off with an excellently executed assist.
Caomhin Kelleher, the academy goalkeeper who so impressed in the Ajax Champions League game in midweek, was once again selected from the start and the Corkman justified his place with a good save from Daniel Podence. Attempting a dinked shot from the edge of the box, the diminutive Portuguese winger forced Kelleher into a scrambling save and the 22-year-old pushed the ball around the post for a corner.
After a disjointed start, with the best football coming down the left wing where Sadio Mane and Andy Robertson combined nicely, Liverpool began to grow into proceedings after the visitors — who consistently used Adama Traore as their out ball on the counter-attack — looked lively on the break in the opening 25 minutes.
Although it was a fortuitous mistake from Conor Coady that allowed the hosts to open the scoring. A speculative Jordan Henderson pass down the spine of the Wolves team was badly misjudged by Coady, the former Liverpool player. With an initial poor touch with his head, the back wheeling visitors skipper let the ball bounce and Salah opportunistically stole a march on him and fired a half volley low past Rui Patricio from the middle of the box.
Coady was proving to be the centre of attention and the Liverpudlian thought he won a penalty on the stroke of half time. After a melee in the box from a second phase Wolves corner, Coady went over in the box after a challenge from Mane. Referee Craig Pawson pointed the spot, despite the irate protestations of the Liverpool players. However, after being advised by the VAR officials to check the incident on the pitchside monitor, Pawson — correctly, because there was no contact and Coady dived — reversed his decision and the champions went into the interval in the lead.
Liverpool started the second half in a sharper fashion than they started the first, but struggled to make it count on the scoreboard in the opening ten minutes. After a glorious Salah pass found Robertson just outside Wolves box, the Scot cut it back for Mane, but the number 10 badly miscued his shot and what would have been a picturebook goal didn’t come to fruition.
The Reds, nevertheless, with Henderson and Wijnaldum imperious in the heart of midfield, stuck to their task and they had their second goal near the hour mark. The aforementioned captain and the Dutch midfield linchpin combined beautifully when Henderson’s lofted through ball found Wijnaldum breaking forward. Delaying his shot until the opportune moment, the Netherlands international accurately curled a right footed shot from just outside the box into the top corner, leaving Patricio little chance.
With their tails up and confidence coursing through their veins, Liverpool scored a third goal. After a short corner routine, Salah’s sublime left-footed arching cross met the head of Matip and, from five yards out, the Cameroonian defender couldn’t miss and he duly planted the header past the increasingly beleaguered Patricio.
Neco Williams, who had a ropey start after picking up a yellow card for fouling Pedro Neto after three minutes, was solid throughout and was substituted for Alexander Arnold. The number 66 was only on the field a matter of minutes and he had notched an assist, laying Liverpool’s fourth goal on a plate.
In a move with a heavy Liverpool academy influence, Curtis Jones — who again impressed, playing with a level of maturity that belies his 19 years — picked out Alexander Arnold with a gorgeous through ball. His fellow Scouser then went one better and curled a sumptuous first-time cross into the box that either Mane or Salah would have tapped into the net if it wasn’t for Semedo doing it for them.
A clean sheet and a win with an injury-depleted squad against a solid team, all in front of some returning fans. It wasn’t a bad night, all told.
Liverpool team: Kelleher; Williams, Matip, Fabinho, Robertson; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Jones; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Replacements: Keita for Henderson, Alexander Arnold for Williams, Jota for Firmino.
Subs not used: Adrian, Tsimikas, Phillips, Minamino
Referee: Craig Pawson.