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Liverpool 2-0 Wolves: Reds fall short in title bid despite win over Wolves

Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane of Liverpool after Mane had scored his goal in the first half
Sadio Mane (right) scored his 21st and 22nd goals of the season

Liverpool's bid for a first Premier League title and a first top-flight triumph in 29 years ended in failure despite a final-day victory over Wolves.

In the 'as it stands' table, the Reds were top for 21 first-half minutes, only for Manchester City to recover from falling behind at Brighton to record a convincing 4-1 victory.

Sadio Mane scored from close range after 17 minutes and again after 81 to join Liverpool team-mate Mohamed Salah and Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the Premier League's top scorer on 22 goals.

Liverpool keeper Alisson was confirmed as the Golden Glove winner with 21 clean sheets.

The victory was Liverpool's ninth in a row and their 30th overall in the league. They finished on 97 points, the third-highest top-flight total in English football history - behind City's title triumphs this season (98) and last season (100).

Smoke, songs and a sea of red

The arrival of the Liverpool team bus has become an event in itself.

Half an hour before it turned onto Anfield Road, thousands were on the street waiting for its arrival. Supporters in the hospitality areas at the top of the magnificent new main stand looked down onto a sea of red, numerous flares going off as Jurgen Klopp and his side turned slowly left and drove into the stadium, the smoke clogging the air in unison with the songs being belted out.

Premier League top six

Many of those fans were either not alive, or old enough to remember the last time Liverpool were champions. The banner that was slowly handed across the lower tier of the Kenny Dalglish Stand before kick-off proclaiming '18 times' was a statement about the club's glorious past, before a game that might have ushered in a bright new future.

As the pre-match atmosphere grew and the teams went through their warm-ups, Klopp stood alone with his thoughts, knowing he had already delivered a season beyond any realistic expectation yet, incredibly, without being able to go into the final day as favourite.

Confusion in the crowds, controlled on the pitch

In his programme notes, Klopp pointed out "the job for all of us today is to make sure the focus stays here, on this game". Quite rightly, he pointed out, it was the only thing Liverpool had any control over.

To their absolute credit, Klopp and his players followed the plea completely.

In the stands though, it was chaos.

From kick-off, the volume was turned up a notch or two, the backing from the supporters to players hugely impressive, so much so that when Sadio Mane tapped home from six yards there was no noticeable change.

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Liverpool 2-0 Wolves: No regrets in special season - Klopp

That didn't happen for about another eight minutes.

Who knows how these things get started but cheers were heard for a Brighton goal that hadn't actually been scored. Fans all over were desperately trying to find out what was going on. Anyone who has tried to get a signal at any major sporting event knows that is not straightforward.

Phones were refreshed and refreshed. The noise subsided. Nothing had happened. Then it did.

The celebration at Brighton's goal was more feverish than had been the case for Mane's. The sadness was that it was brought to an end quite so quickly. For 10 more minutes, Liverpool were still top. There was another ghost goal, another celebration. This time more muted. The optimism from before was disappearing. The belief starting to fade.

News City had gone in front came via the Wolves supporters, who taunted their hosts by telling them they would win nothing this season.

By the time Martin Atkinson blew his whistle for half-time, Matt Doherty had hit the bar for the visitors and the home fans had found their voice again. Anfield echoed to the strains of "Liverpool we love you".

And now for Europe

It did not feel like the league title was on the line in the second half.

Wolves, as they have done so often against the big six this season, gave ample evidence to show they are a very good team. Next season they may go beyond their seventh-placed finish, their best since 1980, with astute recruitment in the summer.

As the goals went in on the south coast, Diogo Jota brought a good save from Alisson with his close-range header before Mane converted Trent Alexander-Arnold's cross nine minutes from time.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made only his second appearance of the season as a late substitute before the whistle blew on Liverpool's amazing domestic campaign.

Wolves will qualify for next season's Europa League if Manchester City complete the first ever domestic treble against Watford in the FA Cup final at Wembley next Saturday.

Liverpool will aim for their sixth European title when they play Tottenham in the Champions League final in Madrid on 1 June.

Man of the match - Sadio Mane (Liverpool)

Sadio Mane of Liverpool
Quality finishing from Mane gave the Senegal forward a share of the Golden Boot, including 18 goals scored at Anfield

'We could not shake City off' - what the managers said

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, speaking to Sky Sports: "I know people will find something and say a point here or three. We had lucky moments, City had lucky moments - against Burnley and us. But we scored a strange goal against Everton and a late one against Newcastle.

"It's not about outplaying everyone, it's about keeping believing and staying in the race. City found it difficult to get rid of us, and we couldn't get rid of them.

"Being second in the Premier League isn't what we wanted tonight but we'll take it. This is a first step, that's how we see it. The team who played the last couple of weeks were together last year apart from Alisson.

"We were 25 points off last season. If we do those same steps again that will be a season.

"I do my job. The boys deserve it 100%. Congratulations to Manchester City, they played a good season. They took 198 points in two seasons, not bad."

Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo: "We had a good game against a fantastic opponent. We started not so good but we had good chances.

"It's the end of the season. Until the last minute we showed total commitment and that's what I went. We had chances but weren't clinical. We knew we would be facing a tough opponent. The commitment, belief and ideas were there.

"We will try to improve and build a good team next season."

What have you got to do to win the title? The stats you may have missed

  • Liverpool became the first team in top-flight history to win as many as 30 games and 97 points in a season and not win the title.
  • No side has ever previously lost just one game in a top-flight season and not won the title - the previous record was also held by Liverpool in the 2008-09 season (two defeats, finished second).
  • Liverpool's tally of 97 points would have been enough to win the Premier League in all but one of the previous 26 seasons of the competition (2017-18).
  • Wolves have ended the season in seventh position - the highest by a newly promoted side in the Premier League since Ipswich Town finished fifth in 2000-01.
  • Sadio Mane scored 18 home Premier League goals for Liverpool in 2018-19 - the most by any player, and eight more than Huddersfield Town scored in total in their home games this season.
  • Trent Alexander-Arnold provided 12 assists for Liverpool in the Premier League this season - the most by a defender in a single campaign in the competition's history.
  • Liverpool won 22 home matches at Anfield in all competitions this season, their most home wins in a season since 2000-01 (also 22).

Line-ups

Liverpool

  • 13Alisson
  • 66Alexander-Arnold
  • 32Matip
  • 4van Dijk
  • 26RobertsonSubstituted forGomezat 84'minutes
  • 14Henderson
  • 3Fabinho
  • 5WijnaldumSubstituted forOxlade-Chamberlainat 88'minutes
  • 11Salah
  • 27OrigiSubstituted forMilnerat 64'minutes
  • 10Mané

Substitutes

  • 6Lovren
  • 7Milner
  • 12Gomez
  • 15Sturridge
  • 21Oxlade-Chamberlain
  • 22Mignolet
  • 23Shaqiri

Wolves

  • 11Rui Patrício
  • 5BennettBooked at 49mins
  • 16Coady
  • 15Boly
  • 2DohertySubstituted forTraoréat 80'minutes
  • 32Dendoncker
  • 8Neves
  • 28João MoutinhoSubstituted forGibbs-Whiteat 84'minutes
  • 19Castro OttoSubstituted forVinagreat 84'minutes
  • 9Jiménez
  • 18JotaBooked at 50mins

Substitutes

  • 7Cavaleiro
  • 10Hélder Costa
  • 17Gibbs-White
  • 21Ruddy
  • 29Vinagre
  • 37Traoré
  • 49Kilman
Referee:
Martin Atkinson
Attendance:
53,331

Match Stats

Home TeamLiverpoolAway TeamWolves
Possession
Home59%
Away41%
Shots
Home13
Away7
Shots on Target
Home5
Away2
Corners
Home4
Away1
Fouls
Home3
Away11

Live Text

Match ends, Liverpool 2, Wolverhampton Wanderers 0.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Liverpool 2, Wolverhampton Wanderers 0.

Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Raúl Jiménez.

Sadio Mané (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Conor Coady (Wolverhampton Wanderers).

James Milner (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Rúben Neves (Wolverhampton Wanderers).

Substitution

Substitution, Liverpool. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaces Georginio Wijnaldum.

Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Diogo Jota (Wolverhampton Wanderers).

Attempt saved. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Sadio Mané.

Substitution

Substitution, Liverpool. Joseph Gomez replaces Andrew Robertson.

Substitution

Substitution, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Rúben Vinagre replaces Jonny.

Substitution

Substitution, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Morgan Gibbs-White replaces João Moutinho.

Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool) hits the bar with a header from the centre of the box. Assisted by Trent Alexander-Arnold with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Conor Coady.

Goal!

Goal! Liverpool 2, Wolverhampton Wanderers 0. Sadio Mané (Liverpool) header from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Trent Alexander-Arnold with a cross.

Attempt blocked. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Substitution

Substitution, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Adama Traoré replaces Matt Doherty.

Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Conor Coady.

Attempt missed. Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box is too high. Assisted by Andrew Robertson.

Attempt blocked. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Sadio Mané.

Attempt saved. Diogo Jota (Wolverhampton Wanderers) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Raúl Jiménez with a headed pass.

Offside, Liverpool. Jordan Henderson tries a through ball, but Mohamed Salah is caught offside.

Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Jonny (Wolverhampton Wanderers).

Attempt saved. Diogo Jota (Wolverhampton Wanderers) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Matt Doherty with a through ball.

Attempt missed. Raúl Jiménez (Wolverhampton Wanderers) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Matt Doherty.

Substitution

Substitution, Liverpool. James Milner replaces Divock Origi.

Attempt missed. Divock Origi (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses the top left corner.

Attempt missed. Raúl Jiménez (Wolverhampton Wanderers) right footed shot from the right side of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Diogo Jota.

Foul by Fabinho (Liverpool).

Raúl Jiménez (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt blocked. Jonny (Wolverhampton Wanderers) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Matt Doherty.

Fabinho (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Willy Boly (Wolverhampton Wanderers).

Booking

Diogo Jota (Wolverhampton Wanderers) is shown the yellow card.

Fabinho (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Diogo Jota (Wolverhampton Wanderers).

Joel Matip (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Man City38322495237298
2Liverpool38307189226797
3Chelsea38219863392472
4Tottenham382321367392871
5Arsenal382171073512270
6Man Utd381991065541166
7Wolves38169134746157
8Everton38159145446854
9Leicester38157165148352
10West Ham38157165255-352
11Watford38148165259-750
12Crystal Palace38147175153-249
13Newcastle38129174248-645
14Bournemouth38136195670-1445
15Burnley38117204568-2340
16Southampton38912174565-2039
17Brighton3899203560-2536
18Cardiff38104243469-3534
19Fulham3875263481-4726
20Huddersfield3837282276-5416
View full Premier League table

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