It was injury time and Liverpool's last throw of the dice. One final roar gathered volume around Anfield but it came from hope rather than expectation. Then Steven Gerrard floated over a corner, Sami Hyppia thrust out his forehead and Wolves were done for.
So the Anfield crowd went home happy, savouring a second home victory in the space of four days and a climb to fourth place at least until their rivals for the final Champions League place, Newcastle and Charlton, locked horns. In Liverpool's strange, stop-start, injury-blighted season that can be marked down as a minor success but you had to sympathise with Wolves who had mounted a stern rearguard operation after the interval.
Gerard Houllier's patience had been sorely tested at Southampton last weekend and even though Wednesday's defeat of Portsmouth here had come as a huge relief there was more evidence yesterday that the Frenchman's fuse is of the short variety these days. Having said that, the penalty that wasn't would have tested the patience of a placid Premiership manager - were such a being to be invented.
After charging down a clearance by Jody Craddock, Emile Heskey was then brought down from behind by the defender, television replays indicating beyond doubt that it was a foul. Rob Styles remained unmoved and that infuriated the Liverpool manager who needed a strong talking to from the fourth official before resuming his touchline seat.
Wolves had opened with a zest that suggested Sunday's 4-0 hammering by Aston Villa had already been forgotten and Kenny Miller was only inches away from converting the cross that followed Ioan Ganea's lively run that had rendered Sami Hyypia incapable of making a challenge.
There was no sign before the break that Michael Owen's scoring instincts had been sharpened by his return to the scoresheet in midweek. The header he put wide after John Arne Riise had lofted the ball in and Hyppia had headed on was, in truth, not an easy invitation.
Much more to the Liverpool man's liking should have been the 41st-minute opportunity that came his way from Danny Murphy's determined challenge. His markers were not so quick to react and that gave Owen the chance to size up his opening. Disappointingly, he pulled his attempt wide of the far upright.
Wolves dug in and gave no sign that they would yield easily. They needed reinforcements every time Gerrard took up possession however, the Liverpool captain trying desperately to produce the creative spark the fixture so badly needed.
His might have been a rescuing mission from the third minute of the second half had Dudek not managed to claw away a fierce drive from Henri Camara. There was concern around Anfield that they had not managed to break down the leakiest Premiership defence but at the same time they had to be careful to remain vigilant at the back because the blustery conditions could easily have proved the architect of the unexpected.
At the finish both Owen and Gerrard came close. It was not happening for the home team, but then Hyppia struck.
Liverpool: Dudek, Carragher, Biscan, Hyypia, Riise, Murphy (Sinama Pongolle 84), Hamann, Gerrard, Kewell (Diouf 61), Heskey (Baros 60), Owen.
Subs Not Used: Henchoz, Luzi Bernardi.
Goals: Hyypia 90.
Wolverhampton: Jones, Naylor, Craddock, Butler, Clyde, Camara, Ince, Rae, Kennedy (Cort 81), Miller, Ganea (Newton 71).
Subs Not Used: Oakes, Cameron, Irwin.
Ref: R Styles (Hampshire).
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