Defensive discipline prevailed as FC Utrecht and Liverpool FC played out a goalless draw in UEFA Europa League Group K.
Functional rather than free-flowing summed up a game in which the Reds started the brighter but the Eredivisie side went closer to scoring. Roy Hodgson's visitors nevertheless escaped with a professional point to add to the three they secured on Matchday 1, enough to keep them top of their section.
Their first-half buzz, marked by the flighty Joe Cole and the enterprising Glen Johnson, was as easy on the eye as it was for Utrecht to repel. Hodgson's charges laid a solid enough foundation with an admirable patience to their passing but, Raúl Meireles's meek header and Fernando Torres's bending shot aside, lacked the devil to threaten Michel Vorm's goal.
Indeed, it was the hosts who finished the half on the front foot, Pepe Reina denying Dries Mertens from an acute angle before Tim Cornelisse headed narrowly over from the ensuing corner.
After 55 minutes of prodding, probing and only partial sightings on goal, came 30 seconds in which both sides were left ruing their lack of poise. Michael Silberbauer was the first culprit, meeting Mertens' corner with an ungainly touch which Meirles headed off the line. Reina soon had the ball in his hands and, in the blink of an eye, it was with Torres, who turned Dirk Kuyt's pass towards goal, where the sprawling Vorm awaited.
Silberbauer whistled one shot marginally over, and another into Reina's grasp. But it was Jacob Mulenga who went closest, stealing in front of Martin Kelly and on to a speculative punt upfield only to roll the ball centimetres wide.
©UEFA.com 1998-2017. All rights reserved.