Anzhi agony for Liverpool in Moscow
Anzhi Makhachkala moved to the top of Europa League Group A as they leapfrogged Liverpool with a 1-0 win thanks to a lone Lacina Traore goal in freezing temperatures in Moscow on Thursday.
Having beaten Anzhi 1-0 at Anfield two weeks ago, Liverpool surrendered a two-point lead over their Russian rivals and are now a point adrift after four games.
Chances were few and far between in a lacklustre first-half in which neither side quite managed to gain the upper hand.
Jordan Henderson should have done better when put clean through on the right and found himself one-on-one with the Anzhi goalkeeper Vladimir Gabulov, but he cut the ball back rather than shoot and the danger was cleared.
Cameroon international Samuel Eto'o had a chance to put Anzhi ahead towards the end of the first period as Yuri Zhirkov got forward and crossed from the left, but Eto's's first-time shot was tipped over at full-stretch by Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Jones.
But then Anzhi broke the deadlock on the stroke of halftime through Traore.
With his back to goal, Traore latched on to a through ball from Mbarak Boussoufa, chipped, turned and lobbed it left-footed over the head of the onrushing Jones from the edge of the area.
Traore could have doubled the lead on the hour when he found himself in space, slipped the ball away from Henderson 20 metres out but fired agonisingly wide.
As the second half wore on Anzhi seemd to grow in confidence and took the game to Liverpool, passing the ball around with relative ease and frustrating the more muscular efforts of the English side.
With 15 minutes to go, Traore had a close range header saved by Jones and a minute later Gabulov was in action at the other end to keep Anzhi in front.
First Pachecho's shot from the edge of the area bounced off his midriff and he had to come smartly off his line to block Joe Cole's close-range shot from the rebound.
Traore then squandered another cast-iron chance, racing clear of the Liverpool defence and sliding his shot wide.