FC Anji Makhachkala's UEFA Europa League ambitions enjoyed a major boost as the Russian side leapfrogged Liverpool FC at the Group A summit following edging a hard-fought encounter in Moscow.
Guus Hiddink's men were far from their best and found it difficult to break down inexperienced if stubborn visitors. However, a moment of brilliance from Lacina Traoré, who produced an excellent turn and finish, sealed all three points for the team from Dagestan. The Reds rarely threatened, but, for all their possession, Anji were unable to add to their lead.
Despite Brendan Rodgers naming a lineup missing a number of regulars, Anji failed to take the initiative early on. Liverpool were content to defend in numbers and it was the English outfit who created the first chance. Adam Morgan, 18, produced an excellent run, slipping a clever reverse pass to put Jordan Henderson through. Goalkeeper Vladimir Gabulov did not panic and cut out the midfielder's attempted cross.
Anji had to wait until first-half stoppage time to break the deadlock and they were indebted to an excellent solo goal from Traoré. Mbark Boussoufa's pass found the Ivory Coast forward, who expertly turned Sebastián Coates before delivering a perfectly weighted lob from the edge of the area – guiding the ball past the onrushing Brad Jones.
Both teams failed to stamp their authority on the game for much of the second half, although Liverpool finally created a decent opportunity with 15 minutes to go. Gabulov failed to handle substitute Suso's fizzing shot from distance, but did well to block Joe Cole on the rebound. Traoré should have made the game safe with time running out, yet the 22-year-old's left-footed shot flew just wide with the keeper beaten as Anji held on for a 1-0 victory.
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