Premier League leaders Liverpool paid the price for fielding a weakened side as they were knocked out in the third round of the FA Cup following a 2-1 defeat by Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday, reports Reuters.
The Merseysiders fell behind to a Raul Jimenez goal on the break in the 38th minute, the Mexican firing home confidently after Diogo Jota robbed James Milner.
Belgian forward Divock Origi brought Liverpool, seven-times FA Cup winners, level in the 51st minute with a well-placed effort from the edge of the area.
But Wolves grabbed the winner four minutes later when Ruben Neves struck a superb low drive from 30 yards out.
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp fielded a much-changed line-up, including two teenage debutants in midfielder Curtis Jones and full-back Rafael Camacho.
The line-up was further weakened in the sixth minute when central defender Dejan Lovren had to go off with a hamstring injury and was replaced by 16-year-old Dutchman Ki-Jana Hoever.
Clearly disappointed with Lovren’s injury, especially given he has two other central defenders Joe Gomez and Joel Matip currently sidelined, Klopp said: “I am not sure what you all would have said if immediately from the beginning if our centre-half situation was Fabinho and Ki-Jana; then probably a few very smart people would tell me that I don’t respect the competition or whatever.”
Xherdan Shaqiri went close to an equaliser for Liverpool in the 69th minute but his curling free-kick was pushed on to the post superbly by Wolves keeper John Ruddy. A minute later Klopp brought on Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah but Wolves were able to hold firm and maintain their lead. The reward for Wolves is a fourth round tie against the winner of the replay between Shrewsbury Town and Stoke City. Wolves’s Portuguese manager Nuno Espirito Santo was delighted with the way his team, ninth in the Premier League, had handled Liverpool.
“I am very pleased, the team performed very well in a tough game. We took our chances,” he said.
With central defenders Joe Gomez and Joel Matip also sidelined and Virgil van Dijk not used against Wolverhampton, Brazilian midfielder Fabinho filled in at centre-half.
“(It is his) hamstring, is what I heard – without any signs before. I asked everybody, no signs, nothing, just out of the blue, so that’s the decision you have to make,” said Klopp when asked about Lovren’s injury. “We tried to do all the things (we could). Of course, on the other hand it doesn’t make sense to bring in a 16-year-old boy from the start. You don’t bring him, you wait until he is completely ready, but he did well. That’s how it sometimes starts – when you are really needed then it is only about if you are good enough and not how old you are.
“He did well, so that was all OK. That’s it.” Klopp was unable to say how long Lovren will be out for.
Liverpool, whose lead at the top of the Premier League was cut to four points after last week’s defeat by Manchester City, are away to Brighton on Saturday.
Klopp said his decision to field a weakened side against Wolves had been influenced by illnesses suffered in his camp.
“After the City game we immediately had a few players who were ill, who showed a sore threat and all you can have in this period of the year. A few of them were not even in (training) after the City game, so there was no chance,” said Klopp.
“Pretty much all the players who were not here today had little problems, apart from Ali (goalkeeper Alisson Becker).
“The problem is, we played a similar line-up and had three tough games in the last couple of weeks, so it was clear we had to change. That’s it, that’s all.”