Hwang earns FA Cup replay for Wolves in thriller at Liverpool amid VAR drama | FA Cup

Hwang earns FA Cup replay for Wolves in thriller at Liverpool amid VAR drama | FA Cup

The unfortunate manner in which Liverpool gave up each of Wolves’ goals could have been taken from a West End farce. Alisson was to blame for the gift that was Gonçalo Guedes’ opener, Ibrahima Konaté the man in the frame for Hwang Hee-chan’s strike that takes this tie to a replay.

There was a third comedy of errors towards the end when a clash with Liverpool’s mouth following a corner led to Totti slotting the ball into the net, but the goal was – amid confusion – ruled offside. It later emerged that the assistant had hit cornerback Matheus Nunes after the ball had bounced back to him.

This is how Jürgen Klopp’s men escaped. Seeing as he has to rate the FA Cup as Liverpool’s best chance of a trophy this season – they trail Arsenal by 16 points in the Premier League, are out of the Carabao Cup and face Real Madrid in the Champions League – the German can feel relieved.

Wolves, however, ended up understandably furious – Julen Lopetegui was punished for his complaints – about the chalk finish, as after watching a replay via his on-pitch ‘tactical camera’, the manager was adamant that no there had been a foul, apparently VAR. not having access to the same corner.

According to that, the Spaniard should fancy Wolves’ chances in the second leg, as Liverpool’s shaky rearguard looks to be in need of an imminent restart to the season rather than a mid-season overhaul. Klopp offered an honest assessment. “Throughout the match, I don’t think we won enough challenges. They win a challenge and suddenly we’re wide open, how can that happen?” he said. “You have to win the challenges. It’s something I mentioned in the locker room. The other team is Brighton, if you don’t defend properly there, there’s no point in going.”

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His four changes included handing a debut to Cody Gakpo, his new £35m striker, who had the chance to open Liverpool – a pea shot that Matija Sarkic caught with ease. Most penetrating was a burst from Mohamed Salah that saw Jonny topple him outside the box, but the Egyptian’s ensuing free-kick sailed wide.

Darwin Núñez celebrates after scoring Liverpool’s first goal against Wolves. Photograph: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC/Getty Images

It was Lopetegui’s fifth game with Wolves and he was encouraged by a Rayan Aït-Nouri corner and a strike in which the same player fed Raúl Jiménez, who was only thwarted by a cleverly placed Konate foot. And now Wolves scored with Alisson’s header as the keeper clumsily crossed straight to Guedes to finish it off. The clownish admission was emblematic of Liverpool’s uneven season, in which consistency is elusive. Klopp managed a smile, but he must have been seething.

From there Wolves began to put Liverpool aside. When Jordan Henderson was moved inside, Adama Traoré arrived like a train to take the ball and leave the captain on the ground. Moments later, Traoré cut in from the right and fired in a low cross that Jiménez was too close to hit.

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Gakpo looked most likely to create an opening, as exemplified by a balletic touch and spin that put Liverpool on the attack. He was isolated but eventually his team-mates came alive and leveled with one of those long-range deliveries that Trent Alexander-Arnold finds simple. Nathan Collins pounced on a crossfield and the right-back took over, dropping a 30-yard diagonal to Darwin Núñez. The striker’s poor finishing has been a satirical favorite of late, but the way he got past Sarkic belied that.

The goal was as unexpected as Wolves’ first and proved the final act of an entertaining first half. The first of the second period gave Liverpool the lead, although they could thank a quirk of the offside law. Gakpo crossed and if he had gone straight to Salah, the latter would have been in an offside position. But because Totti intervened with a header that went to the number 11, which was duly finished, his strike stood. Put another way: in the past, if the assistant referee had scored the instant the ball left Gakpo’s foot, the game would have stopped then and the scores would have remained level.

Liverpool were jubilant but shot themselves in the foot again. A poor clearance by Konaté allowed a Wolves attack. Hwang exchanged passes with Matheus Cunha, Alisson hesitated and Konaté took the ball away from the South Korean striker. Suddenly, this third-round matchup was headed for a replay.

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