Stewart Downing's second-half goal gave Liverpool a slender first-leg advantage against Belarusian side Gomel in their Europa League third-round qualifier.
The Reds rode their luck at times, and their only notable shot on target was when Downing cut in from the right and buried a shot past Vladimir Bushma.
The goal came just three minutes after Sergei Kozeka had rattled the post with a shot, and Dmitry Platonov fired the rebound wide from six yards.
Aleksandr Alumona also went close.
- Appearances: 700
- Goals: 5
- Debut: Jan 1997 v Middlesbrough
- Honours: Champions League 2005, Uefa Cup 2001, FA Cup 2001 & 2006, League Cup 2001, 2003, 2012
- England caps: 38
In his first competitive game as Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers handed a start to Joe Cole - only to see the midfielder, who spent last season on loan at Lille, limp off injured after just 23 minutes.
It was hardly an ideal start for the Premier League visitors, who struggled to assert their authority on their workmanlike hosts.
There were glimpses of the passing principles which earned Rodgers so much praise during his time as Swansea manager but, far too often, possession was squandered.
Jamie Carragher, making his 700th appearance for the club, had to be alert in the first half when he timed a block to perfection as Alumona shaped to shoot.
Sergey Matsveychyk also went close when he fired home from close range, with Liverpool failing to register a single shot on target in the first half.
They looked short on inspiration up front without Luis Suarez and Craig Bellamy, who are on Olympics duty, and Andy Carroll, who did not travel because of a slight groin strain.
New signing Fabio Borini toiled away, but it took some creativity and adventure from Downing to break the deadlock.
The winger cut in from the right and fired a left-footed shot into the bottom corner to give Liverpool a fantastic chance of progression in the second leg at Anfield next Thursday.
After the match, Rodgers was pleased with the result and performance - but asked for patience as he tries to assert his influence on the team.
"It will take time until Liverpool start playing the way Swansea did last season (tactically)," he said.
"Actually the way you play depends on the players you have.
"As for today I saw two things which were very important for me, I saw desire and commitment. I am very grateful to my players for a good game.
"This was my first competitive game in charge of Liverpool and for me it didn't really matter whether the game was played in Belarus or Brazil as I am really honoured to manage this side."
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee blows his whistle to end the game.90:00 +1:17
Fabio Borini takes a shot. Save by Vladimir Bushma.89:20 Substitution
Substitution Alexey Timoshenko comes on in place of Sergei Kozeka.88:35
Short corner worked by Stewart Downing.87:58
Free kick awarded for a foul by Raheem Sterling on Sergey Matsveychyk. Direct free kick taken by Sergey Matsveychyk.87:36 Booking
Booking Booking for Brad Jones.86:50
Aleksandr Alumona produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that misses to the right of the target.86:33
The ball is sent over by Vadim Demidovich, clearance made by Jay Spearing.86:17
A cross is delivered by Dmitri Klimovich.86:02
The ball is sent over by Aleksandr Alumona.84:33
Unfair challenge on Leiva Lucas by Nikolai Kashevsky results in a free kick. Brad Jones takes the direct free kick.84:10
Foul by Raheem Sterling on Aleksandr Alumona, free kick awarded. Sergey Matsveychyk takes the free kick.83:14
Direct free kick taken by Jamie Carragher.83:14 Substitution
Substitution Vadim Demidovich replaces Artur Levitskiy.83:14
Free kick awarded for a foul by Aleksandr Alumona on Jamie Carragher.82:04
The ball is swung over by Stewart Downing.81:27
The official flags Steven Gerrard offside. Pavel Kirilchik restarts play with the free kick.79:51
Inswinging corner taken by Steven Gerrard from the left by-line, clearance by Dmitry Platonov.78:53
The ball is crossed by Raheem Sterling, Pavel Kirilchik makes a clearance.77:53
Unfair challenge on Sergei Kozeka by Leiva Lucas results in a free kick. Artur Levitskiy takes the free kick.
Stewart Downing takes a shot from inside the box clearing the bar.75:38
Nikolai Lipatkin delivers the ball, Brad Jones makes a save.74:12
Dmitri Klimovich crosses the ball, Leiva Lucas manages to make a clearance.73:16 Substitution
Substitution Nikolai Lipatkin on for Tomasz Nowak.71:34
Artur Levitskiy takes a shot. Blocked by Martin Skrtel.70:21
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Raheem Sterling by Pavel Kirilchik. Sanchez Jose Enrique takes the free kick.69:43
Effort on goal by Steven Gerrard from long range goes harmlessly over the bar.66:50 Goal scored
Goal! - Stewart Downing - Gomel 0 - 1 Liverpool Stewart Downing finds the net with a goal from outside the penalty box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Gomel 0-1 Liverpool.66:18
Drilled right-footed shot by Igor Voronkov. Blocked by Jamie Carragher.65:27
Foul by Aleksandr Alumona on Martin Skrtel, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Martin Skrtel.65:04 Substitution
Substitution Leiva Lucas joins the action as a substitute, replacing Jordan Henderson.64:38
Dmitry Platonov has an effort at goal from close range which goes wide of the left-hand upright.64:19
Shot by Aleksandr Alumona.64:01
Sergei Kozeka has an effort at goal from outside the area striking the post.58:58
Igor Voronkov fouled by Jordan Henderson, the ref awards a free kick. Dmitri Klimovich takes the free kick.57:48
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Sanchez Jose Enrique by Tomasz Nowak. Sanchez Jose Enrique restarts play with the free kick.55:34
Foul by Pavel Kirilchik on Fabio Borini, free kick awarded. Jay Spearing takes the direct free kick.54:50
Corner taken left-footed by Stewart Downing from the right by-line, Headed effort from inside the area by Martin Skrtel misses to the left of the goal.54:07
Free kick awarded for a foul by Sergey Matsveychyk on Raheem Sterling. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Steven Gerrard from left wing, Artur Levitskiy manages to make a clearance.50:20
Free kick taken by Martin Skrtel.50:20 Booking
Booking Booking for Aleksandr Alumona.50:02
Aleksandr Alumona challenges Martin Skrtel unfairly and gives away a free kick.46:46
Martin Skrtel fouled by Aleksandr Alumona, the ref awards a free kick. Martin Skrtel restarts play with the free kick.45:01
The referee blows his whistle to start the second half.45:01 Substitution
Substitution Martin Kelly is brought on as a substitute for Glen Johnson.45:00 +1:02 Half time
Half Time The ref blows to end the first period.44:32
Tomasz Nowak restarts play with the free kick.44:32 Booking
Booking Jordan Henderson booked.44:20
Foul by Jordan Henderson on Tomasz Nowak, free kick awarded.42:44
The ball is sent over by Stewart Downing, save by Vladimir Bushma.41:09
Corner from the left by-line taken by Artur Levitskiy, Sergey Matsveychyk produces a left-footed shot from close in that clears the bar.39:42
A cross is delivered by Dmitri Klimovich, Dmitry Platonov has a headed effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the right of the target.39:12
Artur Levitskiy decides to take a short corner.38:48
Aleksandr Alumona takes a shot. Save made by Brad Jones.36:40
Foul by Raheem Sterling on Aleksandr Alumona, free kick awarded. Free kick crossed right-footed by Artur Levitskiy from left wing, save by Brad Jones.36:09
Fabio Borini concedes a free kick for a foul on Nikolai Kashevsky. Vladimir Bushma takes the free kick.34:18
Shot by Sergei Kozeka from a long way out goes over the net.34:08
Artur Levitskiy takes a shot. Blocked by Glen Johnson.32:27
Free kick awarded for a foul by Raheem Sterling on Dmitry Platonov. Pavel Kirilchik takes the free kick.31:41
Tomasz Nowak gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Sanchez Jose Enrique. Stewart Downing takes the direct free kick.31:15
Shot from long distance by Aleksandr Alumona goes wide of the left-hand upright.30:24
Stewart Downing delivers the ball.29:30
Aleksandr Alumona takes a shot. Save made by Brad Jones.28:33
The ball is swung over by Dmitri Klimovich, Brad Jones makes a save.26:09
Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Artur Levitskiy from the left by-line, Aleksandr Alumona produces a right-footed shot from deep inside the area which goes wide of the left-hand post.25:58
The ball is crossed by Dmitry Platonov, blocked by Glen Johnson.24:09
The ball is delivered by Dmitry Platonov, Igor Voronkov produces a header from deep inside the six-yard box that clears the crossbar.22:42 Substitution
Substitution Joe Cole leaves the field to be replaced by Raheem Sterling.20:58
Dmitry Platonov gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Stewart Downing. Glen Johnson restarts play with the free kick.17:56
Aleksandr Alumona produces a right-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the left of the goal.13:29
Igor Voronkov gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Sanchez Jose Enrique. A cross is delivered by Steven Gerrard, Headed effort from deep inside the area by Glen Johnson misses to the left of the goal.12:14
Corner taken by Stewart Downing played to the near post, Effort on goal by Fabio Borini from inside the penalty box misses to the right of the target.12:06
The ball is crossed by Sanchez Jose Enrique, Vladimir Bushma makes a save.11:36
Aleksandr Alumona challenges Steven Gerrard unfairly and gives away a free kick. Jamie Carragher takes the direct free kick.10:04
Unfair challenge on Sergey Matsveychyk by Sanchez Jose Enrique results in a free kick. Sergey Matsveychyk takes the free kick.9:26
The ball is delivered by Stewart Downing, Nikolai Kashevsky makes a clearance.8:17
Artur Levitskiy has an effort at goal from 20 yards. Martin Skrtel gets a block in.5:29
A cross is delivered by Joe Cole, save by Vladimir Bushma.2:45
Glen Johnson takes the direct free kick.2:45 Booking
Booking Dmitri Klimovich is shown a yellow card.2:26
Foul by Dmitri Klimovich on Stewart Downing, free kick awarded.1:44
Shot by Igor Voronkov from a long way out goes over the net.1:13
The referee blows for offside. Brad Jones takes the indirect free kick.0:38
Jay Spearing gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Aleksandr Alumona. Free kick crossed left-footed by Sergei Kozeka from right channel, clearance made by Jamie Carragher.0:00
The referee gets the game started.
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