Liverpool’s struggle season continued as they slumped to a defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers, who boosted their Premier League survival hopes with a big 3-0 victory.
The Reds were aiming to avoid losing a third successive Premier League away match for the first time since 2012, but fell behind after just five minutes when Hwang Hee-chan’s cross deflected off Joel Matip into the Liverpool net.
It got worse for Jurgen Klopp’s side just seven minutes later as poor defending allowed Craig Dawson to mark his debut with a goal, driving in from close range.
Liverpool managed just one shot on target in a dreadful first-half display, but came out with more fight after the break.
Andy Robertson had a goalbound shot blocked and Mohamed Salah clipped a decent effort just wide of the post, before Darwin Nunez drove straight at Jose Sa as Wolves dropped further back.
But the hosts soaked up the pressure before hitting their opponents on the counter-attack, Ruben Neves finishing after great work by Adama Traore.
Victory moves Wolves out of the relegation zone up to 15th, while Liverpool remain 10th.
After taking the Premier League title race to the final day last season, few could have predicted the level of drop-off in Liverpool’s performances.
The Reds started the day 21 points off the top of the table having yet to taste victory in the Premier League in 2023.
A solid draw against Chelsea in their last league outing showed promise, but their performance in the first half of this game was as bad as they have produced in this hugely disappointing campaign.
Fabinho had been dropped by Klopp as he looked to stop the rot, but few of the starting XI emerged from the first 45 minutes with much credit and looked lethargic.
The Reds were better after the break, but by then the damage was done and this latest away defeat leaves them clinging on to a place in the top half of the table.
Wolves boss Julen Lopetegui has done a good job of righting a sinking ship since he was appointed at the start of November, taking them off the bottom of the table and out of the relegation zone.
They had dropped back in following Everton’s surprise win against leaders Arsenal earlier on Saturday, but responded with a hugely impressive performance that will give their fans real belief they can pull clear of the drop zone.
Wolves played with energy and confidence, while Lopetegui has resolved the scoring issues that plagued them early in the season and they looked a constant threat outside Liverpool’s slight revival in the first 20 minutes of the second half.
With games against relegation rivals Southampton and Bournemouth up next, this win gives them a huge opportunity to pull clear of trouble.