Liverpool still have work to do to reach the Europa League group stages after Joe Cole squandered a chance to make their passage easier last night.
Cole missed a penalty as Liverpool were forced to settle for a slender 1-0 advantage after the first leg of their play-off tie against Turkish side Trabzonspor at Anfield.
Ryan Babel claimed the only goal in first-half injury time for the much-changed Reds, who may also live to rue a disallowed goal from debutant Christian Poulsen and a glaring headed miss from Lucas.
The Turkish Cup winners showed the threat they do present ahead of next week's return leg in Trabzon as Umut Bulut brought a fine save from Jose Reina.
Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson said: "They played very well in the first half and kept us at bay well.
"We did not have the intensity of play that I would like to see.
"We had it in the second half and I think we were unlucky we didn't aggravate the score - and we should have done because we missed a penalty."
Hodgson made seven changes from Sunday's Barclays Premier League draw against Arsenal, decisions which included giving captain Steven Gerrard a night off ahead of Monday's trip to Manchester City.
Babel, linked with Wolfsburg this week, was deployed as a lone striker and produced a cool finish when his chance came at the end of a drab first half.
That proved his final touch as he was replaced by Fernando Torres at the start of the second half.
Torres' introduction enlivened the contest and both sides finally began to find openings.
Liverpool had the best of them, not least when Cole failed from 12 yards after Lucas had been fouled.
That continued a miserable week for new signing Cole, who was sent off against Arsenal and found guilty of speeding on Wednesday.
Cole said: "It was a bad penalty. It was pre-determined that I'd take it but you can't dwell on those things.
"It was a bad penalty but we won 1-0 so we'll take the positives from that."
Cole did at least set up Babel's goal and was involved in the build-up to the close-range Poulsen strike which was ruled out.
It was unclear at the time whether it had been chalked off for a foul on goalkeeper Onur Kivrak by Cole or for offside.
Hodgson felt it was the former and said: "TV replays showed there was no real contact between Joe Cole and the goalkeeper.
"That's one of the things that happens these days. He was clever enough I think to cover up his error by pretending to be fouled and the referee, unfortunately, wasn't in a position to see through the masquerade."
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies