His achievements have given Kenny Dalglish a line of credit not available to the likes of UBS or Northern Rock. He could have survived an early exit from the Carling Cup and a home defeat by Wolverhampton Wanderers, which so bankrupted Roy Hodgson's regime. Instead he has won both, although with the kind of fortune that was forever denied Hodgson, Wolves might have snatched a point.

The Liverpool manager did not seek excuses for last Sunday's humbling at White Hart Lane and his side just about deserved their victory in a high-octane afternoon that featured the brief league return of Steven Gerrard, brought on to a standing ovation more than six months after he last graced Anfield.

"We played better in defeat at Stoke but we will continue to plod on," Dalglish observed, although no team who boast Luis Suárez will ever plod. Without him, Liverpool might have appeared ordinary.

Wolves began as if the supine surrender to Queens Park Rangers at Molineux had never been. They were sharp and inventive but very soon they were a goal down. The shot was from Charlie Adam but the wound was self-inflicted as the Wolves captain, Roger Johnson, flung himself at the ball and succeeded in deflecting it past Wayne Hennessey.

Perhaps because of all the Yorkshire bluff that he carries with him, Mick McCarthy is not thought of as a tactically inventive manager but his double substitution during the interval transformed the game. When Steven Fletcher, who had been on the field for fewer than five minutes, drove a shot into the roof of Pepe Reina's net from Stephen Hunt's cutback, it provided Wolves with momentum that was not quite enough to tip the balance.

If there was fortune about Liverpool's first, there was none at all about the second. When José Enrique sent a ball down the left flank and into the area for Suárez, the angle and the presence of two old gold shirts around him suggested the threat was minimal. Instead, the Uruguayan sent Christophe Berra first left and then right and then, instinctively noticing Hennessey had left a gap between himself and his near post, he shot through it brilliantly.

At half-time the Tannoy announced in the kind of gloating manner that was utterly at odds with Liverpool's traditions that Fernando Torres had been sent off at Stamford Bridge. At least Torres had scored, which was more than Andy Carroll was to do.

Dalglish, who had accused the media on Merseyside of "obsessing" about the Premier League's most expensive Englishman, noted in the press room that there had been no questions about Carroll "because he had performed well".

Up to a point. There was a free header from a Stewart Downing corner met without power or purpose. Then came a fabulous diagonal ball across the face of the Wolves goal that Suárez just failed to slide home. It was followed by a wayward pass that ended up among a group of substitutes warming up and then a header against the post. Finally, having been set up by Gerrard, Carroll took three touches too many and ended the match flat on his back in front of the Kop. There was good, there was bad and there was indifferent.