Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo revealed he was proud of his players after their excellent performance in the 1-0 defeat at Liverpool.
Sadio Mane’s controversial goal was the only difference between the sides as Wolves had a disputed effort from Pedro Neto chalked off by VAR.
Wolves also had an excellent chance when Diogo Jota was denied by goalkeeper Alisson late on, while Joao Moutinho and substitute Romain Saiss fired over the bar from scoring positions.
Nuno’s squad had just 45 hours between their 3-2 win against champions Manchester City and kick-off at Anfield against the runaway leaders.
The Molineux head coach made four changes as Ryan Bennett, Max Kilman, Ruben Vinagre and Pedro Neto replaced Romain Saiss, Matt Doherty, Adama Traore and Raul Jimenez, in an initial switch back to 3-5-2, before reverting to 3-4-3 just before the hour.
And Nuno was delighted with the response of the team, who despite the quick turnaround looked full of energy, especially in a strong second-half performance.
“The way we are doing things, the way they commit themselves, made me proud,” said the boss.
“The result is there, but the performance makes us proud. We had 45 hours to get ready to compete – it’s a tough schedule for every team in the Premier League, but we had energy.
“That’s the good part – the reaction, the way we did things in the second half makes us proud, the display of energy was amazing.
“It was a tough game, the boys worked very hard, which is unnegotiable.”
Nuno was also hugely impressed with the effort of the whole team.
“They were fantastic from the beginning to the end,” he added. “We finished the game really well, and in the second half we dominated the game, we controlled the game, we had good possession of the ball, found balance from one side to another, and had chances.
“It was a good game of football. It’s a tough place to come, Liverpool are a fantastic team with a fantastic manager, they had energy, but we balanced that, that’s what I take away from here.”
Nuno never criticises the officials and he is a confirmed supporter of VAR. But he re-iterated his stance that match referees should be given more power, rather than those at Stockley Park having the final say, after referee Anthony Taylor was overruled by VAR over Mane’s goal, which he had disallowed for handball.
“Anfield is amazing but they were celebrating a non-goal,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense. The referees should sustain their decision.
“There’s a referee miles away making decisions on a lot of things that are happening here.
“Who feels the game? Who is inside the game? The intensity of the actions? The referee.”
Wolves were better after the break, no doubt fired up by a sense of injustice after the VAR incidents went against them.
But Nuno insisted the players remained focused on their task.
“It’s focus we need to have, no matter what happens,” he said. “There was a second half to be played and we played it well, we were brave against a very good team.
“This is the challenge that makes us grow and we have to keep on going.
“It was about bouncing back from a situation you cannot control. This is what we did as a team, we didn’t make mistakes and grew against a very good opponent.”
Nuno admitted Wolves needed to stay in the game in the first half when they came under pressure, but felt his team needed to be more clinical when the chances came.
“In the first half Liverpool were very strong, but that was the moment to stay in the game,” added the Portuguese.
“We stayed in the game, stayed organised, always with their danger, we controlled a lot of things without having the ball in the first half.
“In the second half it changed – we came out strong, pressed high and had good possession that created a lot of chances, and we finished the game very well.
“We had a lot of chances, a lot of situations to break, but we were not able to get that final touch.
“It was not the day, but let’s work and be more clinical, and I’m really proud of the boys.”