BRENDAN Rodgers’ first match in charge of Liverpool FC ended in victory after a 1-0 win against Gomel in their Europa League third qualifying round first leg tie at the Central Stadion in Belarus.
Stewart Downing’s 25-yard effort midway through the second half was enough to give the Reds the edge going into the second leg match at Anfield next Wednesday.
Gomel dominated the majority of the game and Liverpool were lucky to leave with the win after the hosts missed plenty of chances.
Liverpool’s back four looked rocky throughout and it was poor finishing rather than the performance of goalkeeper Brad Jones which cost the home side.
Gomel, who are halfway through their domestic season, were full of energy and pressed LFC high up the pitch, giving the visitors little time to dwell on the ball.
Rodgers promised he would take the competition seriously and picked a strong side although Daniel Agger and Andy Carroll - both of whom have been linked with moves away from Anfield - stayed in the north-west.
Jamie Carragher made his 700th Liverpool appearance and was partnered in the heart of the defence by Martin Skrtel.
Joe Cole, who spent last season on loan at Lille, also started - while summer signing Fabio Borini led the line in a 4-3-3 formation.
However former Chelsea man Cole lasted just 23 minutes as he hobbled off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, with 17-year-old Raheem Sterling his replacement.