Liverpool face a tough task if they are to progress to the next phase of the Europa League after losing the first leg 2-0 to Zenit St Petersburg in Russia last night.
After a tame first half from both sides in freezing conditions, the game sparked into life when Hulk, the Brazilian forward, unleashed a piledriver from outside the area that rocketed into the top corner.
Liverpool were still gathering themselves after that setback when Sergei Semak got on the end of Aleksandr Anyukov's cross after evading Martin Skrtel and side-footed home unmarked.
Skrtel returned to the starting line-up to face his former club in the last-32 tie in the Petrovsky Stadium. The Slovakia international's inclusion was one of three changes from the side defeated by West Bromwich Albion on Monday, with Joe Allen and Raheem Sterling also coming in as Daniel Agger, Lucas and Jonjo Shelvey dropped out.
Zenit, who have not played a competitive match for two months, started with summer signings Hulk and Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel.
Liverpool had a chance to pull one back in the final 10 minutes after Zenit goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev spilt the ball following a Luis Suarez shot. Jordan Henderson got the ball back to Stewart Downing, but his tame effort was blocked by the defence.
The Russian champions fed off the fervour of their fans and displayed a sharpness which defied their two months without a competitive match as both striker Alexander Kerzhakov and Hulk were denied early on by Jose Reina.
Suarez responded by turning Nicolas Lombaerts and rolling a shot past goalkeeper Malafeev and across goal but wide of the far post.
Liverpool, in trying to play a cagey European-style game, sank further back into their own half and it only served to invite on the hosts who saw Danny's header easily saved and Hulk hit the post.
It will be a big ask for Liverpool to overcome the deficit at Anfield next week, as they will need to push for goals while being cautious not to lose an away goal.
It was a good night for Russian teams as Anzhi Makhachkala won 3-1 over Hannover in their home leg against the German club. Samuel Eto'o was among the Anzhi scorers after Hannover had taken the lead through Szabolcs Huszti. Anzhi's other scorers were Odil Ahmedov and Mbark Boussoufa.