Ruben Neves’ bullet strike from 25-yards was enough to seal Wolves’ place in the fourth round of the FA Cup at the expense of Premier League leaders Liverpool.
Neves’ thunderbolt on 56 minutes put Wolves ahead for the second time in the match after Raul Jimenez’s neat finish past Simon Mignolet opened the scoring before Divock Origi brought Liverpool level just after half time.
Nuno Espirito Santo made five changes to the side that fell to defeat against Crystal Palace on Wednesday, with John Ruddy, Ruben Vinagre, Leander Dendoncker, Diogo Jota and Neves being introduced to the starting 11.
Before the match kicked off, a minute’s applause was held in memory of former Wolves captain Bill Slater CBE – the last man to lift the FA Cup for the club, in 1960 – who passed away in December.
After controlling play in the opening stages of the match, Wolves had the best chance to go in front when Jota, back in Nuno’s starting line-up following a spell on the sidelines through injury, broke forward and spread the play to Jonny Otto on the right flank. However, after taking a touch, the full-back’s shot was deflected wide of the target.
A few minutes later, and Neves attempted an ambitious effort from range. After his initial free-kick was headed clear, the Portuguese international took aim from 30-yards out but his looping effort missed over the crossbar, with Mignolet in the Liverpool goal untroubled.
Just after the half hour mark, Neves played a splitting diagonal pass over the Liverpool defence to Jonny who had advanced up the pitch on Wolves’ right. Jonny took a touch which took him to the byline and he looked to flash the ball across the Liverpool box, but Mignolet was out to claim it.
Wolves took the lead shortly after when the ball was given away in the Liverpool defence straight to Jota, who played the ball through to Jimenez. The Mexican, who raced down the right-hand side in acres of space, got into the area made no mistake with his finish, placing it neatly past Mignolet and into the far corner of the visitors’ net.
Half-time: Wolves 1 Liverpool 0
Wolves came out of the half-time break on the attack but fell behind just over five minutes into the second half. A spell of pressure on the Wolves backline saw the defence struggle to clear the ball which made its way out of the box to Origi. The Liverpool striker turned on the edge of the Wolves area before firing the visitors level with an accurate effort from 20-yards.
But Wolves weren’t behind for long. Vinagre picked up a pass on the left after nice play in the middle of midfield by Dendoncker and the Portuguese youngster pulled his pass back to Neves just outside the Liverpool box and, after taking a touch, fired an unstoppable low drive from 25-yards out past Mignolet’s near post.
Jimenez continued to put the pressure on the inexperienced Liverpool defence, and almost caught out Hoever when he went one-on-one with the 16-year-old, but the striker couldn’t get the ball out of his feet quick enough as he rounded Mignolet.
Liverpool came inches away from levelling the score when Coady felled Daniel Sturridge on the edge of the Wolves box. Xherdan Shaqiri stepped up from 20-yards out and fired his free-kick against the inside of the post, thanks to the helping fingertips of Ruddy, but the ball headed out of play having not crossed the line.
Liverpool brought on the firepower of Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah with 20 minutes left in the match, but the pair could not make their presence felt and it was Wolves who progressed to the fourth round of this year’s FA Cup.
Full-time: Wolves 2 Liverpool 1
Wolves: Ruddy, Jonny (Doherty 75), Bennett, Coady, Boly, Vinagre, Dendoncker, Neves, Moutinho, Jota (Cavaleiro 52), Jimenez (Costa 83).
Unused subs: Norris, Gibbs-White, Saiss, Traore.
Liverpool: Mignolet, Camacho, Fabinho, Lovren (Hoever 6), Moreno, Milner, Keita, Jones (Salah 70), Shaqiri, Sturridge (Firmino 70), Origi.
Unused subs: Kelleher, Mane, Christie-Davies, Alexander-Arnold.
Referee: Paul Tierney