Never in doubt.
Jürgen named an unchanged lineup for tonight’s match, keeping faith with the same eleven that beat Leipzig so comfortably in Budapest last week. The last time we fielded an unchanged team was… after beating Leipzig 2-0 in Budapest. We lost that game, to Everton, so it was tempting providence for the boss to do the same thing this evening.
An early fumble from Alisson set the pulses racing, the keeper failing to collect a straightforward cross cleanly and bundled into Semedo as he tried to retrieve it; no penalty was the decision. Semedo then forced our bearded Brazilian into a low save in the fifth minute; it was relatively routine as far as saves go.
Twelve minutes in, Gini released Sadio for a clear run on goal. Last season, the net would have bulged; this year, Mané was forced wide and the attack came to nowt. Replays showed that Rui Patricio put a hand on Sadio’s foot- should he have gone down? Would we have got the penalty? No and no, in my opinion.
Nat got a vital flick to take the ball away from Jose just after the half hour. A few minute later, Trent played a brilliant first-time cross but Sadio could only send his diving header wide of Patricio’s lefthand post.
Neves drove a 30-yard free kick straight at Ali; the Portuguese midfielder then found himself in acres of space at the edge of the box but drilled his shot well wide from 15 yards.
A minute into stoppage time, our front three combined to release Jota on the left about ten yards out. His low shot was well struck but the keeper should have done much better; still, it was 1-0 to the good guys.
As the players trudged off for their halftime oranges, the visitors probably deserved their lead but Wolves had certainly shown glimpses and certainly could not be written off.
The second stanza started with Conor Coady heading high and wide when unmarked from a cross from the Wolves right; he should have at least tested Alisson. Salah shot over from longe range, after an excellent cross-field pass from Sadio.
Trent was lucky- in my opinion, at least, to get away with a nudge in the back of Moutinho in the 65th minute; if that had been a foul on one of our players, we would all have been livid when the ref waved play on. Jürgen refreshed the midfield shortly afterwards, with Baby and Millie replacing Gini and Thiago.
Salah forced Patricio into a low save with eleven minutes left and then Jota tried his luck but his compatriot saved comfortably. Ox then replaced Jota for the last ten minutes. Kabak did well to nick the ball from Gibbs-White as the youngster burst through the middle.
Moments later, Mo had the ball in the back of the net but was rightly flagged offside. Rui Patricio went down with an apparent head injury after clattering into Coady; the keeper had to be stretchered off and, after about twelve minutes of treatment on the pitch, John Ruddy replaced him as a concussion substitute. I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing the Wolves goalie a full and rapid recovery.
This obviously meant a lot of stoppage time. Mo whipped a typical left-footed effort just wide from about 15 yards and then Silva nodded tamely straight at Alisson. And that was that. The Reds clung on and are now back in the chase for a top four finish.
Next up is one of those much-loved international breaks (how many players will come back injured this time?) before a trip to Arsenal. The game is currently scheduled for 3 o’clock on Saturday 3rd April but will no doubt be moved for television purposes. Our recent record in the capital has been excellent; another three points would be most welcome.
MOTM: those good people at Neal’s Yard Dairy. The other half has decided to take out a monthly cheese subscription (I could have played her my Des O’Connor records, as that would’ve been much cheaper) and I must say that she has received some stunning stuff. From old favourites like Stilton and Cheddar to lesser-known gems such as Corra Linn and Winslade, their cheeses are truly delicious. I’m going to weigh about 20 stone by the time the Arsenal match comes around.