Liverpool 2 – 2 Wolves

Liverpool survived a late scare but still face an FA Cup replay with Wolves after a VAR call labeled “impossible” by Julen Lopetegui denied Toti a late winner in a topsy-turvy 2-2 draw at Anfield.

Toti backheeled Hwang Hee-Chan’s low center into the net in the 82nd minute to spark wild celebrations in the away end, which were eventually dampened when a flagged offside in the build-up was upheld by VAR – even though BTI reported video official Mike Dean did not have a camera angle of the alleged offence.

“We have seen it, and the offside doesn’t exist,” Lopetegui told BTI after visiting referee Andy Madley with captain Ruben Neves. “It’s impossible, but someone has told him that it is offside. We have seen the image, and it doesn’t exist.”

It proved the final twist in a memorable FA Cup clash at Anfield, which Wolves led after 26 minutes thanks to Alisson’s horribly wayward pass which handed Goncalo Guedes an open goal.

In contrast, the hosts’ equalizer just before half-time was one of pure quality. Trent Alexander-Arnold’s 40-yard cross-field ball fell perfectly for Darwin Nunez, and he finished superbly past Matija Sarkic.

Liverpool turned the game on its head after half-time when debutant Cody Gakpo’s deep cross was nodded on by Toti, who by deliberately playing the ball was contentiously ruled to have played Mo Salah onside for an opportunity he buried.

That decision proved another bone of contention for Lopetegui, who said: “The second goal from Liverpool is the same. It’s the same rule. Salah was offside before Toti touched the ball, and of course Toti [reacts] to the position of [Salah].”

Wolves were given some respite as Liverpool’s fragile backline was breached again through Chan, who bundled home his first club goal in 11 months – before Toti’s overturned winner denied Lopetegui the finest moment of his short Wolves career to date.

Both sides will now face a replay at Molineux amid an already packed schedule later this month.

Player ratings

Liverpool: Alisson (5), Alexander-Arnold (7), Matip (5), Konate (6), Robertson (6), Thiago (5), Fabinho (6), Henderson (6), Salah (7), Nunez (7 ), Gakpo (6).

Subs: Keita (6), Elliott (6), Oxlade-Chamberlain, Salah, Gomez (n/a).

Wolves:Kirkic (6), Lembikisa (6), Collins (7), Toti (7), Castro (6), Adama (6), Neves (7), Hodge (7), Ait-Nouri (6), Jimenez (5 ), Guedes (7).

Subs: Hwang (7), Cunha (7), Nunes (6), Semedo (6), Bueno (6).

Player of the match: Goncalo Guedes.

How Wolves continued revival to deny cup holders Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp went against many of his Premier League colleagues by naming a first-choice Liverpool XI to bounce back from Monday’s defeat at Brentford, but much of the first half at Anfield presented him with familiar frustrations.

Gakpo and Salah both enjoyed early opportunities in a good Liverpool start, but their nonchalance at the back threatened to cost them even then.

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring his side's second goal during the English FA Cup soccer match between Liverpool and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield in Liverpool, England Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023 (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Image:
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring his side’s second goal during the English FA Cup soccer match between Liverpool and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield in Liverpool, England Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023 (AP Photo/Jon Super)

Joel Matip was caught cold by Guedes when dribbling out of the Liverpool box, and was lucky to get away unscathed.

Soon after Alisson was less fortunate when he passed straight to the Portuguese under little pressure, and was left to watch on as he fired into an empty net.

Wolves were not flattered by the scoreline but had their lead snatched away moments before half-time through a move they had little chance of stopping.

News team

  • Jurgen Klopp included new signing Cody Gakpo in the starting line-up for his Liverpool debut.
  • Julen Lopetegui made eight changes to his Wolves side, including a rare start for Toti and 19-year-old Dexter Lembikisa.

Alexander-Arnold’s raking cross-field ball was pinpoint for Nunez, whose finish across Sarkic was nearly as excellent.

The offside confusion began seven minutes into the second half with Liverpool’s second goal.

Salah latched onto Toti’s miscued header, which he may not have attempted had the forward not been offside, and lashed home a gift of a goal which VAR confirmed after a brief review.

Wolverhampton Wanderers'  Hee-Chan Hwang, right, celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the English FA Cup soccer match between Liverpool and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield in Liverpool, England Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023 (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Image:
Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Hwang Hee-chan, right, celebrates after scoring his side’s second goal during the English FA Cup soccer match between Liverpool and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield in Liverpool, England on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023 (AP Photo/Jon

Wolves missed a gilt-edged chance to level when Rayan Ait-Nouri was played through but fired straight at Alisson.

But soon their sense of injustice was softened temporarily when substitute Hwang, back from a starring role with South Korea at the World Cup, burst into the Liverpool area and bundled home an equalizer after exchanging passes with Cunha.

But the visitors, and Lopetegui in particular, were incensed when Toti’s apparent winner from a corner was ruled out by the linesman’s flag when Matheus Nunes was ruled offside in the build-up.

After a lengthy VAR hold-up, Dean upheld the on-field decision without an opportunity to review it himself to force Wolves to settle for a draw, and keep Liverpool’s hopes of retaining the trophy alive.

Klopp: I can understand Wolves’ frustrations

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Jurgen Klopp says he can imagine the frustrations from Wolves following one of their goals being disallowed despite not all camera angles being used in the VAR decision process.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp:

“On the pitch, I couldn’t see it. For me, I thought it was a goal. It was the player in the left corner who might have been offside, we have one angle which I saw in the dressing room which I thought was offside but I would not swear on it.

“This angle, the VAR didn’t have if I’m right. We had a similar situation in the Arsenal game, an angle was missing and everyone thought it was offside but we couldn’t prove it.

“I don’t know how these things can happen, but it happened. So I understand Wolves’ frustrations, you want the right decision in these moments as we wanted it back then.”

Lopetegui: Both VAR decisions were wrong

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Wolves head coach, Julen Lopetegui was left disappointed by the decision to rule out a third goal for his side in the FA Cup tie against Liverpool.

Wolves manager Julen Lopetegui to ITV about visiting the referee’s room after full-time:

It was only to talk about the two goals. We have seen the offside for our goal, and it doesn’t exist. It’s impossible, but someone has told [the referee] it is offside. We have seen the image, and it doesn’t exist.

“The second goal from Liverpool is the same. It’s the same rule. We have talked a lot with referees about this kind of situation, one player taking advantage of his position before Toti touched the ball. Of course, Toti reacts to the position of [Salah].

“The referee was very polite, he helped us but now it’s happened and we have to accept it. It’s a pity because we deserved to win against a fantastic team like Liverpool, we have to recover and go again in four days against Nottingham Forest. “

What’s next?

Liverpool’s next game is at Brighton in the Premier League on Saturday January 14 – kick-off 3pm.

Wolves‘next outing sees them travel to Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday – kick-off 7.45pm.

Julen Lopetegui’s side then host fellow Premier League strugglers West Ham in a crucial top-flight clash on Saturday January 14 – kick-off 3pm.

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