Liverpool were eliminated from the FA Cup in the third round as Wolverhampton Wanderers won their tie 2-1 at Molineux on Monday night.
Raul Jimenez put the home side ahead at the conclusion of a clinical counter-attack in a first half otherwise notable only for the Reds debut off the bench of Academy defender Ki-Jana Hoever.
Divock Origi levelled the score six minutes after the break for Jürgen Klopp’s men but Ruben Neves’ wallop quickly restored Wolves’ lead and ultimately decided the match.
Rafael Camacho and Curtis Jones made their senior Liverpool debuts at Molineux as part of nine changes made by Klopp from last Thursday’s Premier League clash with Manchester City.
Fabinho was deployed at centre-back, while Hoever was named on the bench.
Liverpool’s hopes of finding early rhythm against their fellow Premier League side were disrupted by an injury to defender Dejan Lovren in the opening minutes.
The Croatia international limped off with six on the clock and was replaced by Hoever, who became the third-youngest player ever to debut for the Reds, aged 16 years and 354 days.
That aside, however, there was little flow to the tie in the first half.
Wolves did forge an incisive attack on 11 minutes, with Diogo Jota’s run through the left channel preceding a pass across the area to the supporting Jonny Otto for a strike that deflected off Alberto Moreno and wide of the right post.
As the visitors settled after the enforced reshuffle, chances were few and far between.
One did come Xherdan Shaqiri’s way on the half-hour – the ball falling to the Liverpool No.23 when Ryan Bennett could not deal with James Milner’s loft into the box – but he dragged his effort wide.
Instead, it was the hosts who broke the stalemate.
Jota pounced on hesitation by Milner at the halfway line and when he evaded Fabinho’s tackle to knock the ball to Jimenez on the right flank, the Wolves No.9 surged inward into the vast space left behind and swept a finish across Simon Mignolet from 10 yards.
Klopp’s frustrations on the touchline during the first half were clear but the manager’s instructions at the interval yielded the desired response from his players.
Their equaliser came from the left boot of Origi, who collected the ball after Milner’s battling inside the area and dug out a precise punt that sailed between Wolves stopper John Ruddy and the right post.
But parity lasted only four minutes.
Neves took advantage of the time and space he needed around 25 yards from goal and smacked a shot that bounced inside Mignolet’s left post and put the Reds back at square one.
Shaqiri – and the Liverpool supporters inside Molineux – thought the second equaliser was in the bag when the Swiss arced an excellent free-kick over the wall and towards the top right corner, but the ball was flicked by Ruddy onto the post and went out at the other side of goal.
Klopp immediately sent on Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah to freshen up his forward line and the Reds pressed as Wolves began to rely on breakaways.
The latter drew an awkward save from Ruddy at the end of a neat move generated by Hoever’s composure in bringing possession out from his own territory.
But Liverpool could not find the goal they required to keep the tie alive and they bow out of the FA Cup at the third-round stage.