6 talking points as Liverpool rue Alisson blunders as Wolves force FA Cup replay

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6 talking points as Liverpool rue Alisson blunders as Wolves force FA Cup replay
6 talking points as Liverpool rue Alisson blunders as Wolves force FA Cup replay

Liverpool were forced into an FA Cup replay by a resilient Wolves side, who secured a 2-2 draw at Anfield despite being denied by contentious offside decisions.

The home side gift-wrapped Wolves the opening goal as Alisson’s attempt to play out from the back went straight to Goncalo Guedes, who slotted it home past the Brazilian.

The much-changed visitors were dominant in the first half but were made to pay for a lack of ruthlessness as Darwin Nunez levelled just before the break – guiding Trent Alexander-Arnold ’s wonderfully flighted through ball into the far corner of the net.

Liverpool took the lead after the break in somewhat contentious circumstances as Mohamed Salah – initially in an offside position before Wolves defender Toti reset the phase of play by misguiding a header – fired home from close range, but substitute Hwang Hee-chan levelled 15 minutes later.

Toti thought he had won the game for Wolves but, after a lengthy VAR check, the assistant referee’s decision to disallow the goal for offside stood. Here are six talking points from an entertaining clash on Merseyside, which will now need to be decided at Molineux.

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Alisson blunderland

6 talking points as Liverpool rue Alisson blunders as Wolves force FA Cup replayThere was no hiding place for Alisson following his uncharacteristic error (OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

Alisson Becker has established himself as the best goalkeeper in the world since joining Liverpool from Roma in 2018 and has been a bedrock of the team’s successes in the years since. That level has continued this season with a string of fine performances to save the Reds.

However, there can be no escaping from the fact his error for the Wolves opening goal was a horror show that will be deserving of its inevitable future place on a blooper reel. Alisson tried to play a pass out from the back, but it did not even make it out of the penalty area and it is straight to Goncalo Guedes – who gratefully rolled it into the net.

Michael Brown commentating on BBC Radio Five Live said: “It is a ridiculous mistake from Alisson, he rolls the ball straight to Guedes who says 'thank you very much' and rolls it into the net. It is as bad a mistake as you will ever see.”

Eni Aluko added on ITV Sport: “Alisson doesn’t sense where the pressure is coming from. Either clip it over him or go out the other way.”

Alisson's bad night did not end there, as he allowed Hwang's effort to creep through his legs as Wolves found a deserved equaliser midway through the second half.

Nunez reaches double figures

6 talking points as Liverpool rue Alisson blunders as Wolves force FA Cup replayNunez levelled the score for Liverpool from Alexander-Arnold's delivery (Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Darwin Nunez has been the subject of no shortage of questions and concern over his finishing this season. Liverpool’s record signing has passed up no shortage of opportunities after getting himself into strong positions.

The Uruguayan produced a composed finish, albeit off his shin, from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s wonderfully flighted delivery to level the score just before the break. That means he now has double figures for the club with an impressive 10 goals in his opening 23 appearances.

By comparison, that is more than Luis Suarez and Sadio Mane (both nine goals) had in the same period, although short of the 15 of Fernando Torres and Mohamed Salah’s 18 in that timeframe.

Reds offside luck

6 talking points as Liverpool rue Alisson blunders as Wolves force FA Cup replaySalah's goal stood despite the Egyptian being in an offside position (Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Liverpool took the lead in somewhat contentious circumstances as Mohamed Salah scored despite being in an offside position. The Egyption’s goal counted as Wolves defender Toti got his head to a pass forward to divert it into Salah's path.

Salah was categorically, by the law, onside but only because Toti deliberately played the ball. Yet the defender only played the ball because of Salah’s positioning. In another season with an offside rule change, the goal would not have counted but the correct decision was reached here – frustratingly for the visitors.

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Wolves thought they had a winner from Toti following a corner, but the goal was chalked off by the assistant referee. It went to VAR and after a lengthy stoppage the decision held, but suggestions that an insufficient camera angle meant a review could not accurately be held frustrated the visitors further.

Gakpo’s quiet debut

6 talking points as Liverpool rue Alisson blunders as Wolves force FA Cup replayCody Gakpo was making his Liverpool debut against Wolves (Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

The signing of Cody Gakpo at Liverpool blind-sided many; the Dutch international had appeared to be on the radar of Manchester United, while the left forward position at the club was already well-stocked.

His price tag was not as hefty as recent attacking additions Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez, but there is no shortage of expectation on the former PSV Eindhoven forward – especially after he bagged three goals for the Netherlands during the World Cup. Gakpo could not stamp his mark on this game, but hopes remain high there is much more to come from him.

Klopp hints at cup priority

6 talking points as Liverpool rue Alisson blunders as Wolves force FA Cup replayJurgen Klopp and Julen Lopetegui took different approaches to team selection (Jack Thomas - WWFC/Wolves via Getty Images)

Aside from the injured Virgil van Dijk, Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota, Liverpool were at full-strength for this tie as Jurgen Klopp refused to rotate away from his preferred starting line-up.

Having been eliminated from the EFL Cup and with their chances of a Premier League title virtually extinguished – with an uphill battle for a top four spot now their league priority – the Reds boss may have been thinking that retaining their FA Cup crown represented their best chance of salvaging a below-par campaign.

Lopetegui evaluates squad

6 talking points as Liverpool rue Alisson blunders as Wolves force FA Cup replayJulen Lopetegui was overseeing his first ever FA Cup match (Jack Thomas - WWFC/Wolves via Getty Images)

Julen Lopetegui used this tie to rotate his starting line-up and get a first-hand look at players on the fringes of the Wolves squad in a high-level match. Montenegrin goalkeeper Matija Sarkic –whose only first-team experience for the club had been in EFL Cup games – started alongside teenage right-back Dexter Lembikisa and Irish Under-21 international Joe Hodge, while central defender Toti started once again.

Wolves were never going to prioritise cup competitions under their new boss when they were in the perilous league position they find themselves in but the Spaniard will have been delighted with this showing with several players impressing given their opportunity.

Colin Millar

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