Liverpool FC's second away win in UEFA Champions League Group G has kept the holders on course for the knockout phase. Striker Djibril Cissé's 20th-minute volley condemned RSC Anderlecht to their third 1-0 defeat in the section, while extending the hosts' unwanted record at this stage of the competition to ten straight losses.
Rafael Benítez handed Sami Hyypiä a 53rd consecutive European start as he opted for a seemingly conservative 4-5-1 formation with Cissé the lone striker. Anderlecht, for their part, made three changes. Hannu Tihinen's recovery from illness consigned Lamine Traoré to the bench while Bart Goor and Pär Zetterberg replaced Fabrice Ehret and Walter Baseggio respectively.
Goor was immediately in the action, played through on goal by Christian Wilhelmsson after a flowing move, but José Manuel Reina came sharply off his line to save with his legs.
Riise to the fore
Gradually the visitors found their stride with Dietmar Hamann shooting narrowly wide before Luis García missed a golden chance in the 13th minute, firing over from in front of goal from John Arne Riise's perfectly weighted pull-back. Finding space on the left, Riise was becoming ever more involved. The Norwegian's curled effort with his less-favoured right foot was brilliantly turned behind by Silvio Proto.
That was the precursor to the goal as the ensuing corner, swung in by Hamann, was brilliantly volleyed home by Cissé for his ninth goal of the season.
A second almost followed in similar fashion. Again a corner caused problems for the home defence, but this time goalkeeper Proto made an outstanding point-blank save from Djimi Traoré. Goor spurned Anderlecht's best opportunity to equalise before the break, collecting Mbo Mpenza's controlled header but skewing the ball off target.
Riise, continuing to venture down the left flank to great effect, flashed a thunderous volley centimetres wide as the second half got under way. Anderlecht replied with Anthony Vanden Borre's poked attempt forcing Reina into action.
The action became stretched as Anderlecht desperately chased their first goal of the group stage, seeking to exploit the room left by Riise's forays forward. A sign of coach Frank Vercauteren's intent saw holding midfielder Yves Vanderhaeghe replaced by Baseggio. They had a penalty appeal refused when Wilhelmsson's cross was blocked by Jamie Carragher, and the Swedish midfielder then shot across goal as the fightback gathered momentum.
But Liverpoool were breaking dangerously and Cissé held his head in his hands after dragging a left-foot effort just wide from yet another opening created by the indefatigable Riise.
Anderlecht were unbowed, although another Vanden Borre miss at the far post left the home supporters frustrated. With fifteen minutes remaining the coaches made contrasting substitutions. Harry Kewell made his first appearance since May's UEFA Champions League final, on for Cissé, while Anderlecht switched to three at the back with forward Akin Serhat replacing Olivier Deschacht.
A wonderful Proto save with his feet prevented Mohamed Sissoko adding a second for Liverpool, who continued to threaten on the break with García denied by another fine stop in the dying minutes. However, Liverpool were content with the solitary strike which keeps them alongside Chelsea FC at the top of Group G on seven points, four above Real Betis Balompié with Anderlecht looking doomed to a fight for a UEFA Cup place at best.