LONDON (AFP): Liverpool moved into the Premier League’s top six as goals from Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah deepened Wolves’ relegation fears with a 2-0 defeat at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp’s men were again far from the force of recent seasons, but have now taken 10 points from a possible 12 in their last four league games to remain in the hunt for a top-four finish.
The Reds close to within six points of fourth-placed Tottenham with a game in hand over Spurs still to come.
Wolves remain just three points above the relegation zone in 15th as the visitors were made to pay once more for the lack of a goal threat going forward.
A fourth meeting between the sides in less than two months bred boredom rather than contempt for the first 45 minutes.
Harvey Elliott headed wide the best chance of the opening half and then tested Jose Sa with a drive from outside the box.
One week on from Liverpool’s record-equalling home European defeat in a 5-2 humiliation at the hands of Real Madrid, there was far less to get the crowd at Anfield off their feet.
But Klopp sees signs of progress in a fourth consecutive Premier League clean sheet.
“We had a knock against Real Madrid,” said the German coach. “We played a really good first half then we started the second really bad. We looked a lot more stable today, we have to carry that on.”
Klopp should at least have more forward options to choose from for the run in with Diogo Jota back available and Luis Diaz close to a return.
A foul by Jota on Max Kilman denied Darwin Nunez the opening goal midway through the second half as the Uruguayan’s strike was ruled out after a VAR check.
But Jota did have a hand in breaking the deadlock as he teed up Van Dijk to head into an unguarded net after Sa had parried the Dutch centre-back’s first effort.
The home side’s second goal was much more like the Liverpool of old as Wolves were cut open by a rapid counter attack.
Konstantinos Tsimikas played a one-two with Cody Gakpo before the Greek galloped into the Wolves box and picked out Salah to force the ball in with his thigh for his 20th goal of the season.
A rampant Manchester United will pose a far tougher test of Liverpool’s road to recovery when the Red Devils visit Anfield on Sunday.
“It’s a big game anyway, against a team in form,” added Klopp. “We have to be ready, and we will give them a big fight.”
Wolves boss Julen Lopetegui lamented his side’s second half performance as they were unable to match the highs of a 3-0 win over Liverpool when the sides met at Molineux last month.
“I think that we did not play in the game plan we had in our head. In the first half much better, in the second we did not keep the ball. It was a shame, but they deserved to win,” said Lopetegui.
“Today is not easy for me to keep positive thinking, maybe in a few days.”