Any hopes of a trip to Wembley in May were over within 90 minutes at Molineux on Monday. The events earlier in the day leading to a delayed arrival, just making it into the ground seconds before kick off, was a precursor to the events that would unfold.
A Liverpool line up included 2 players born in this millennium in Rafa Camacho and Curtis Jones, who featured in pre-season for the reds and up front, a chance for Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge to show why they should be kept around as their expected departures in the summer failed to materialise, partly due to an upturn in form in that period by Sturridge. For Alberto Moreno and Simon Mignolet, it was a case of rotating and allowing Alisson and Andy Robertson a small rest in between league matches, although with comments circling the internet attributed to the pair, I immediately questioned whether the performance level would be there with both seemingly unhappy with decisions taken by Jurgen Klopp.
The night didn’t get off to the best start at all as the game was brought to a halt very early on as Dejan Lovren went down injured and whilst you never want to see any player get injured, seeing another centre back taken off, when you’re already thin on the ground in that position with injuries to Joe Gomez and Joel Matip, you can only despair, even if you are one of those who quickly reaches for the blame Lovren button, when we concede and he is on the field.
The bright note of that unfortunate injury was the introduction of Ki-Jana Hoever, who just shy of his 17th birthday became the club’s youngest player in the FA Cup and 3rd youngest overall. He impressed in the game, looking unphased by the occasion and as time was coming to a close and Liverpool sought an equaliser, it was his ability to evade an opposing attacker and run with the ball that eventually led to the ball finding Mo Salah, who had himself came off the bench, but did not lead to a goal but drew appreciation from the crowd.
The rhythm for Liverpool never really got going and you could say, the majority of the travelling supporters knew what was coming as time and time again the ball was lost and Wolves went forward looking very dangerous on the counter and so it proved as Milner’s poor pass was capitalised on by Raul Jimenez who had plenty of time to run, pick his spot and put the home side in front.
At half time, there were frustrations as the players had not really delivered and more importantly, the front players never looked like creating anything, never mind scoring so when the away fans erupted into jubilation as Divock Origi equalised, it looked like despite everything that had been seen, there could be a smash and grab or at least another match at Anfield around a week or so later but the parity lasted just a few minutes as Ruben Neves struck a shot from outside the area that realistically should have been saved by Simon Mignolet. Take nothing away from the effort by Neves, who has a reputation for those kind of strikes but as with many times during the game, Mingolet looked extremely hesitant and indecisive. Take Wolves coming forward looking to wrap the game up and the Belgian now with the Liverpool fans to his right and Wolves supporters behind him, starting to come then backtracking before deciding to try and close down an attempt which thankfully ended up in the side netting.
With Salah and Firmino on the pitch, it was hoped the extra energy would at least rescue a replay and it did appear to galvanise Liverpool as something that had seriously lacked in the time elapsed before their introduction but bar a Xherdan Shaqiri free kick which struck the post with the aid of fingertips from the Wolves ‘keeper, there wasn’t too much to suggest Liverpool’s performance merited a draw. Shaqiri must have thought he’d scored with the reaction as he had began to sprint towards the Liverpool supporters before the realisation set in that it had hit the post and not ended up over the line.
The referee blew the whistle to signify that the FA Cup dream was over at the first hurdle and as in all the previous times when Liverpool have been in the competition under Klopp, a side beginning with W had knocked the team out. This game will be forgotten if it is the Premier League title being held aloft in May. For me, it was another ground ticked off and as in 2017, another 2-1 defeat to Wolves in the FA Cup attended with Divock Origi the Liverpool scorer.