Wolverhampton: Relegation-threatened Wolverhampton Wanderers humiliated Juergen Klopp’s Liverpool on Saturday with a comfortable 3-0 win over the misfiring Reds, who are yet to win in the Premier League this year.
In their best performance of the season, Wolves cut through Liverpool’s shaky defence from the off, missing two good chances before a Hwang Hee-Chan cutback went in off the heel of Joel Matip for a fifth minute own goal.
Minutes later, debutant Craig Dawson lashed in the second unmarked from close range after the ball bounced off Cody Gakpo in another spell of sloppy defending by the visitors.
A fired-up Liverpool started the second half strongly, but Ruben Neves effectively ended the contest in the 71st minute, controlling then prodding the ball in at the end of a scintillating counter-attack from the home side.
Defeat left Liverpool 10th on 29 points after a terrible start to 2023 in which they have won just one of seven matches - against Wolves in the FA Cup - in all competitions.
“The start to the game was horrible. We caused the misery with the first 12 minutes... How can I not be concerned?” a downcast Klopp told reporters after the game.
“You can criticise, you can judge us, you can say whatever you like, and you are probably right, because these 12 minutes are not allowed. That’s really hard to take, I have to say.”
After coming close to a historic quadruple last season, where they won two domestic cups and were runners-up in both the Champions League and Premier League, Klopp’s injury-hit and confidence-shorn team are a shadow of their former selves.
The result was the first time in a decade that Liverpool have lost three consecutive Premier League away games.
They have conceded more goals in the Premier League this season - 28 in 21 games - than they did in the whole of last season and remain 21 points behind Arsenal at the top.
Klopp refused to make excuses, saying it was no longer right to point to the impact of their energy-sapping 2021-22 campaign.
“The team is not full of confidence, you can see that. We caused the problems ourselves. I cannot always cover things... I don’t lose confidence in the boys, but I see where we have to improve. For today, it was not good enough what I did.” Victory eased Wolves’ fears of a drop to the second-tier Championship, lifting them to 15th position on 20 points, two ahead of the bottom three.
Their ecstatic fans serenaded every touch with an “Ole” in the final minutes as Liverpool’s once all-conquering players looked beaten and embarrassed.
“We love super Lopetegui,” the Molineux crowd sang to their Spanish manager Julen Lopetegui, who took over in November charged with saving Wolves’ Premier League status.
Work to do
Klopp, meanwhile, had to endure what for him is an unaccustomed taunt: “You’re getting sacked in the morning”.
Wolves’ boss was thrilled with the performance but cautioned his team still had plenty of work to ensure safety.
“Of course we are happy,” Lopetegui said.
“But this is only three points. We have to continue working hard. We need a lot of points more to achieve our aim. It is going to be a very long and hard race.” (Reporting by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Christian Radnedge)