Football Features

“A moment of genius vindicated by VAR” – Every player rated as Liverpool go 13 points clear

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 18:42, 29 December 2019

In a stifled afternoon of football, Liverpool edged past Wolves 1-0 at Anfield.

The Reds ended 2019 with a home win and a clean sheet thanks to two VAR calls (and a delicious finish from Sadio Mané) that went their way as they held off an impressive Wolves team playing their second game in 48 hours.

Here’s how the players rated at Anfield:

Liverpool

Alisson – 6 – Did what little he had to do well. Well beaten by Neto but rescued by VAR to secure Liverpool’s second clean sheet of the season.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7 – Liverpool’s early game-plan was just giving it to Trent and waiting for magic. Produced several impressive crosses but his team-mates couldn’t convert. Absolute non-entity as a defender in the last 10 minutes and repeatedly exposed by Wolves.

Joe Gomez – 7 – Pulled off a good bit of early defending to cover Virgil van Dijk and in general just looked completely unphased by whatever Wolves threw at him.

Virgil van Dijk – 5 – Uncharacteristically poor. Needed bailing out by his team-mates a few times, got dispossessed by a pressing striker and even his lovely pass in the build-up for Liverpool’s opener was blighted by his handball in the build-up.

Andrew Robertson – 6 – Ran like hell from first whistle to last.

Gini Wijnaldum – 5 – Moved things around neatly enough but never really controlled the game. Looked tired.

Jordan Henderson – 5 – On the field.

Adam Lallana – 8 – Drifted in behind the Wolves midfield on numerous occasions. Improvised superbly to create Liverpool’s opener with his shoulder. A moment of genius vindicated by VAR. Tackled ferociously and was subbed just after the hour to a standing ovation.

Mohamed Salah – 7 – Made countless runs in behind the defence and looked the biggest threat for Liverpool all night. Made the Wolves defenders work their socks off to contain him, which they just about did.

Sadio Mané – 7 – A quiet night for Mané but he won the game with a superb volleyed finish in the first-half.

Roberto Firmino – 5 – The Brazilian’s goalscoring run came to an end as he was well marshalled by the Wolves defenders.

Substitutes:

Naby Keita (for Lallana 67′) – 5 – Played well but didn’t have the same impact Lallana did.

James Milner (for Wijnaldum 86′) – n/a – Added little.

Divock Origi (for Firmino 86′) – n/a – Came on late.

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Wolves

Rui Patricio – 7 – Saved well and commanded his box with authority. Could do nothing about Liverpool’s winner.

Ryan Bennett – 8 – Defended well against the blistering pace and intelligence of Mané. Helped hold Liverpool to just 10 shots.

Conor Coady – 8 – Held down the defence in classic fashion. A masterful display.

Max Kilman – 7 – Impressive for the most part despite relentless Liverpool pressure from Salah. However, he failed to dominate Lallana in the build-up to Liverpool’s opener.

Jonny Otto – 7 – A relentless performance by Jonny that was full of good tackling, pressing, passing and movement.

Leander Dendoncker – 6 – Worked hard and tackled well, as always. Removed just short of the hour as he ran out of energy.

Ruben Neves – 5 – Passed well but lacked the the drive he usually does (unsurprisingly given he played less than 48 hours ago). Withdrawn on 58 minutes to prevent serious fatigue.

Joao Moutinho – 7 – Tackled intensely all night long but not as penetrative with his passes and missed a good chance to score late on.

Ruben Vinagre – 6 – Ran up and down the flank but did little to dull the influence of Alexander-Arnold.

Pedro Neto – 7 – Worked hard and scored a sensational equaliser only for VAR to nonsensically rule it out. Never seemed to re-discover his swagger in the second-half.

Diogo Jota – 6 – Ran hard at the Liverpool back-line all night. Pressed with gusto but his most notable moment was stealing the ball from Van Dijk before ramming a shot at Alisson.

Substitutes:

Romain Saiss (for Neves 58′) – 6 – Helped keep things moving in midfield but missed a great chance late on.

Adama Traoré (for Dendoncker 58′) – 7 – Looked a devastating force whenever he moved at Liverpool. An unreal combination of technique and athleticism. If only he could have played the whole game!

Raúl Jimenez (for Jota 72′) – 7 – Was the focal point Wolves were crying out for. One great bit of hold-up play late-on to create a great chance for Saiss shows what he could have done if Wolves didn’t have to rest him because they played twice in 48 hours.

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