Kenny Dalglish finally got a win in his fourth attempt in his second coming as Liverpool manager. The Reds convincingly tamed Wolves 3–0 at Molineux in Saturday’s English Premier League opener.
Two goals from star striker Fernando Torres and an exquisite volley from Raul Meireles secured the points for the Merseyside club.
Looking for their first double over Liverpool in all of 60 years, Wolves started off full of vim and vigor and it was important for Liverpool to match them in work rate, which they did. It was all decidedly rough and tumble for the first half hour but eventually Liverpool started to settle and show one or two touches of class.
Fernando Torres had the first clearcut chance of the game but Wigan goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey was equal to the Spaniard’s shot from the edge of the box. Raul Meireles then shot just wide and on 34 minutes Maxi Rodrigues again brought Hennessey into the action.
A minute later the ball reached Meireles in acres of space and the Portuguese squared for Torres to tap in. Pepe Reina saved from Steven Fletcher and then blocked a close range effort from Nenad Milijas to preserve Liverpool’s lead going into the break.
Only four minutes after the break a weak clearance from Wigan defender Christophe Berra found Meireles with time to execute a perfect volley that flew into the net from all of 25 yards to double Liverpool’s advantage.
Wolves came back strongly but their passing was wayward and invariably the delivery into the penalty area was poor. The home team enjoyed plenty of possession with Liverpool finding it difficult to get out of their own half at times.
The visitors’ defense was put under considerable pressure and given a stern test, but Wolves really failed to create any clear cut opportunities and work the Liverpool keeper.
New Wolves signing from Barnsley Adam Hammill, a former Liverpool junior, looked lively when he came on as a substitute for Stephen Hunt. The winger crossed for Kevin Doyle whose header brushed the wrong side of the crossbar; then the new recruit had a chance to score himself against his first club but scuffed the shot.
As the clock neared the 90 minutes Mick McCarthy’s players had given their all and were clearly tiring. Having weathered the storm, Liverpool strung together a succession of passes and clinically unlocked the Wolves defense. Dirk Kuyt was put through and he set up Torres who gratefully belted the ball into the roof of the net from the edge of the 6-yard box.
Liverpool have certainly grown in confidence since Dalglish’s arrival and this first win will do them a world of good. In the absence of the suspended Steven Gerrard, the performance of Raul Meireles in midfield will have been particularly satisfying.
The Reds should be able to pull clear of the relegation zone without too much difficulty but one feels that Wolves will have a long hard struggle for survival from now until the end of the season.