Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool silence Wolves and extend lead at summit

Wolves 0-2 Liverpool

Top form: Virgil van Dijk grabs his side's second goal against Wolves last night
Top form: Virgil van Dijk grabs his side's second goal against Wolves last night

By Nick Mashiter

Liverpool moved four points clear at the top of the Premier League after Mohamed Salah inspired them to a deserved 2-0 win at Wolves.

The forward scored his 14th goal of the season before setting up Virgil van Dijk's clincher in the second half at Molineux.

Jurgen Klopp's unbeaten Reds, who have conceded just seven goals in 18 league games this season, will now top the table on Christmas Day regardless of Manchester City's result against Crystal Palace today.

In eight of the last nine campaigns the team top at Christmas has won the league - except Liverpool in 2013.

Klopp described the game as "unbelievably difficult" and "a bit of a fight".

"The boys showed they are ready for these difficult games," he said. "One of the most difficult games of the season and we won it."

Liverpool have dropped just six points so far this season, but Klopp says his side cannot afford to start getting carried away.

"Forty-eight points before Christmas, it's just crazy, but there are other teams there as well," the German said.

"At the end of season you need 105 (points) to be champion - it could be. We cannot start a party.

"I saw some really good things tonight. We will be training on Christmas morning so it is like every other day. It is an outstanding number (of points in the league) - it is absolutely cool.

"We have Manchester City waiting and that will be really tough for the boys.

"We need to have different game plans but the boys showed they are ready for that."

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santos said: "We started the game well, chances for both teams. We didn't maintain the consistency through the game. The start of the second half is not good.

"The boys worked very hard and it's difficult to play against Liverpool especially when they're in front. We deserved one goal at least. We have to now rest."

Wolves had not lost in matches against Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal having also upset Chelsea at Molineux and will feel they deserved something.

It was a gutsy performance but Adama Traore wasted a fine opening while Romain Saiss was denied by Alisson Becker.

They forced the first early chances in a confident start despite precise and slick Liverpool dominating possession.

Fabinho gifted Traore the ball but the former Barcelona youngster could only shoot wide after four minutes. But the hosts were made to pay for any profligacy when Liverpool scored with their first shot on target after 18 minutes.

Salah's deflected cross eventually found Fabinho and the midfielder swapped passes with Sadio Mane to find Salah who coolly flicked in with the outside of his boot from six yards.

The hosts sought to battle back began to press at pace and Alisson claimed Jonny's skidding effort seven minutes before the break. Liverpool had been sloppy at the back, Alisson getting lucky after he was almost robbed by Raul Jimenez, and Matt Doherty tested the goalkeeper as Wolves searched for a leveller.

But they wrestled back control after the re-start. In front of the highest Molineux crowd since 1981 - 31, 358 - Wolves gave the Reds a scare but ultimately fell short after Van Dijk added a second with 20 minutes left.

Adam Lallana, on for the injured Naby Keita, was denied by a combination of Conor Coady and Patricio and from the resulting corner the Reds scored.

After being played short, Lallana's deep cross was only half cleared to the lurking Salah and his ball in found Van Dijk who stuck out a leg to divert it past Patricio.

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