- Salah scores PL leading 11th goal
- Van Dijk nets first PL goal in Liverpool shirt
- Liverpool still unbeaten in PL play, with 11 clean sheets
Just once in the last nine seasons has the Premier League leader on Christmas morning not gone on to win the title. Liverpool in 2014 remains the lone outlier in that set, and now the Reds have a chance to turn the tables on that disappointing finish.
Liverpool ensured the club would sit atop the Premier League table through the holiday as the Reds tamed a dangerous Wolves side 2-0 behind Mohamed Salah‘s 11th goal of the season and Virgil Van Dijk‘s first Premier League goal in a Liverpool uniform. The hosts were often threatening at Monlieux, but could not produce a noteworthy finish and were made to pay.
Wolves proved the more dangerous side in the opening 15 minutes, as Adama Traore and Romain Saiss each had good chances on the break, with the latter’s shot saved and parried by Alisson into a dangerous area near the penalty spot in the 16th minute, but it was cleared by the defense.
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Despite the positive attacking mentality from the hosts, they were undone on the other end inside the opening 20 minutes, putting the underdogs behind. Fabinho played a one-two with Sadio Mane on the right-hand flank, and it led to a fizzling low cross from the Brazilian. Salah was on the doorstep to latch on, and he tapped in the cross from the top of the six-yard box.
As the rain came down in sheets at Monlieux, the hosts had another big chance as the game crept closer to halftime, but Raul Jimenez was hesitant to shoot when the opportunity arrived, and eventually his effort was blocked by a recovering Liverpool defense. Alisson was then on hand to save a shot on the break from Matthew Doherty, who may have done better by crossing to an open Jiminez in front of net.
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After halftime, Liverpool was dealt a blow as Naby Keita was withdrawn due to injury, replaced by Adam Lallana. Nuno countered by removing Portuguese international Joao Moutinho and replacing him with , also withdrawing Adama Traore for fresh legs in Ivan Cavaleiro.
Liverpool looked to extend its lead past the hour mark, as Salah and Mane worked a good attempt for Lallana from the left that was blocked out for a corner. The ensuing set-piece was played short, and it eventually came to Salah who produced a delicious delivery for van Dijk who beat his mark and tapped home past a helpless Rui Patricio for a 2-0 lead with 22 minutes to go.
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Wolves, knowing they had to produce some kind of final product to have any chance at a result, pushed forward with even more urgency. They pressed Liverpool hard and won the ball in positive areas, but were unable to get past the Reds defense. A mistake by Andy Robertson in the 89th minute nearly saw Wolves substitute Morgan Gibbs-White free on goal, but the young English international was unable to find the back of the net, firing just wide of the gaping goal. Georginio Wijnaldum missed a wide-open chance for Liverpool on the stroke of the final whistle.
As the final whistle blew, Liverpool moved to 48 points, four above Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table. Liverpool is yet unbeaten in Premier League play, with 15 wins in 18 matches. The Reds also have 11 clean sheets on the season and have conceded just two goals in their last seven matches.
Meanwhile, Wolves remain in seventh with 25 points, still an overwhelmingly positive position for a newly promoted team. The loss snaps a three-game winning streak, and leaves Wolves with four days rest before a festive period that features four matches in eight days.