Dirk Kuyt’s first half effort handed Liverpool an unconvincing 1 – 0 win over battling Debrecen at Anfield.
Boss Rafa Benitez, celebrating his 300th game in charge of Liverpool, named an unchanged side to the one that beat Burnley 4 – 0 on Saturday – but it was the Hungarian champions that came closest to taking a shock lead, Peter Czvitkovics testing Pepe Reina with a stinging drive. Reina then held a Laszlo Bodnar free-kick as the visitors enjoyed a good spell of pressure.
The outstanding Albert Riera twice came close to breaking the deadlock for Liverpool, first dragging a shot wide before being denied by Debrecen keeper Vukasin Poleksic. However, Kuyt finally broke the visitors stubborn resistance on the stroke of half time, scoring from close range after Poleksic could only parry Fernando Torres’ first effort into his path.
The second half began the same way as the first, with the home side frustrated by Debrecen’s resolute defending, but they came tantalisingly close to a second through Steven Gerrard’s sublime volley. Yossi Benayoun then saw his effort saved by Poleksic after a mazy run, before the impressive Adamo Coulibaly came close to giving the visitors an unlikely point – but could only shoot tamely at Reina when clean through.
Debrecen, whose last visit to England ended in a 3 – 0 defeat to Manchester United, continued to pose a threat to the Reds in the closing stages – but Liverpool held on to record their 100th European win and begin their Champions League campaign with victory.