McCarthy’s side pick up first away win to enfuriate the Kop
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Having already suffered shock defeats to Blackpool and Northampton Town in the League Cup, a single goal from Stephen Ward was enough to lift Mick McCarthy's side off the bottom of the league, and ensure that Liverpool would be in the bottom half of the table at the turn of the year for the first time in Premier League history.
The Reds went into this game at Anfield having never lost to Wolves in the Premier League, and with the side from Molineux having the dubious honour of the worst away record in all four divisions so far this season.The return to the starting line-up of captain Steven Gerrard added to the reasons for making Liverpool very strong favourites.
However, after the first half there was no evidence to suggest who was going to win the game and the Liverpool fans were not happy with their teams performance in the first 45 minutes.
From the off Wolves were pressing all over the pitch, matching Liverpool up with a 4-4-2 formation of their own as the home side couldn’t settle.
Despite this, it was the Merseysiders who created the best chance of the half on seven minutes. Fernando Torres took a free-kick quickly in the middle of the Wolves’ half which put Raul Meireles clean through on Wayne Hennessey’s goal. George Elokobi’s desperate attempt to cut the pass out only laid it up for the Portuguese more invitingly, but the ‘keeper did well to block his strike and the rebound was cleared by Richard Stearman.
That really was the only clear-cut chance in the whole first half, although it was still a fairly engaging contest as the ball moved from end to end, just without either side having the final ball to create anything.
At one stage it looked like Lucas had got away down the right, but a trip from Elokobi from behind put an end to that attack, but it also saw the left-back go into referee Peter Walton’s book.
David Ngog tried a couple of shots in the last few minutes of the half, one was straight at Hennessey, and the other blocked by Stearman, so not exactly worrying the travelling supporters.
There was a shout for a penalty from the home side on 39 minutes as Christophe Berra clumsily came together with Sotirirs Kyrgiakos from a Gerrard corner, but the referee wasn’t interested.
The half petered out and the Kop vented their anger over the uninspiring with some audible boos after the whistle.
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Liverpool were expected to come out all guns blazing as the second half commenced, but apart from a Ngog chance which he poked wide from a Glen Johnson cut-back, it was the away side that looked the brighter.
Liverpool’s lack of confidence was summed up by Pepe Reina, who inexplicably passed the ball straight to Sylvain Ebanks-Blake just outside his penalty box. This eventually led to a Ronald Zubar attempt that was comfortably saved by the Spaniard.
The Wolves pressure continued as an Elokobi cross in the 55th minute was met by Ebanks-Blake, however it was a difficult chance for the former Manchester United striker who couldn’t keep his volley down.
Moments later, and Anfield was stunned into silence - as Wolves went one-nil up through a Ward goal which the visitors richly deserved. A poor Kyrgiakos clearing header was met by Ebanks-Blake who played a perfectly waited ball straight through the middle of the Greek and his central defensive partner Martin Skrtel. Ward dashed onto it and finished excellently past Reina to delight the travelling fans.
Liverpool failed to react to the goal, despite the flow of the game, as Hodgson's side seemed shell-shocked. The Reds' boss looked to change the tide by introducing Ryan Babel for Ngog on 62 minutes which was met with derision by the home fans.
And it was Wolves who had the next good chance though as terrible defending from Meireles and Kyrgiakos saw the ball break to Kevin Foley in the box, but Glen Johnson made an excellent block to deny the Wolves captain.
Babel’s introduction seemed to increase the tempo for Liverpool though, and the atmosphere Changed briefly within Anfield.
But it didn’t last long though, as Wolves continued with their impressive passing game and still weren’t afraid to attack.
The home side couldn’t create any kind of clear-cut opportunity thanks to McCarthy's well organised defence and tenacious tackling in the middle of midfield from Foley and Milijas.
Hodgson was getting desperate for a change in fortunes, and with fifteen minutes to go made a double substitution, introducing Joe Cole and Fabio Aurelio who replaced Meireles and Paul Konchesky, with the latter's exit met with huge cheers round Anfield.
Liverpool’s frustration was evident as Johnson picked up the first booking for his side for a heavy challenge on the excellent Matt Jarvis on 76 minutes.
Wolves made their first change on 78 minutes as goalscorer Ward was replaced by Scotland international Stephen Fletcher having picked up a knock earlier in the half.
Liverpool didn’t look to be showing any urgency to try and win the game despite being at home and a goal down to the team at the bottom of the table, they looked bereft of ideas or even passion.
But when Liverpool following found the breakthrough, it was rightfully disallowed. A Gerrard free-kick from the left flank was met by Martin Skrtel, but Wolves employed their fantastic offside trap which left their own box a sea of red shirts, and the linesman duly raised his flag.
David Edwards came on for Jarvis as 90 minutes approached to help sure up the Wolves midfield, but in truth Liverpool weren’t offering much and as the game came to an end they still hadn’t created a good chance.
Peter Walton blew his whistle just after 94 minutes to a chorus of jeers for the home faithful.