It seemed to have all the ingredients for an upset.
A bitingly cold night, mist swirling in the floodlights. An atmospheric old stadium, packed to the rafters, the home fans in riotous good voice from first minute to last. The premature departure of a key player. A first goal conceded in 725 minutes of league football. An opposition forward, Adama Traore, who looked capable of weaving his way to goal single-handedly almost every time he got on the ball.
And still Liverpool won.
When the final whistle sounded on a 2-1 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers on Thursday that Liverpool did not so much pull out of the fire as carry to safety from the 30th floor of a burning building, Roberto Firmino and Georginio Wijnaldum stood bent over with their hands on their knees just inside their own half. After catching their breath, they righted themselves, turned toward each other and shared a tired embrace. Victory tastes so much sweeter when it is this hard earned.