Liverpool FC kept their first clean sheet since April to earn a 0-0 draw away to PSV Eindhoven in their UEFA Champions League Group C opener.
The home team rarely looked like breaching the English rearguard and, in truth, neither side conjured up much in the way of scoring opportunities. Steven Gerrard, kept on the bench until the final 18 minutes, struck the inside of the post with two minutes remaining with a superb volley but the 2005 winners will be content with a draw and with restoring their defensive solidity.
The first clear-cut chance fell to PSV after nine minutes. Arouna Koné showed great pace to run the entire length of the Liverpool half to fire a drive from the left edge of the penalty area that crashed off the bar and over, with Pepe Reina well beaten. The Liverpool defence continually pushed up when PSV had possession, compressing the game and denying the Dutch champions space in midfield. When the visitors had the ball it was often Jermaine Pennant who provided an outlet with some clever running down the right flank.
On 23 minutes a rising attempt from Ibrahim Afellay forced Reina to save at full stretch. Only a few minutes later Heurelho Gomes had to move smartly off his line to pluck the ball from Dirk Kuijt's feet. Bellamy then had a goal disallowed for offside and rattled Gomes's left-hand post, though he had been penalised for handball. The quicksilver Wales forward, clearly the first half's danger man, again showed his menace by smartly turning Carlos Salcido, though his effort lacked power and was smothered by PSV's Brazilian custodian.
The first opening of the second half came on 54 minutes when Jan Kromkamp combined well with Jefferson Farfán, but the former Liverpool full-back failed to get his shot in. Pennant replied at the other end with another strike from outside the box which Gomes clutched low to his right. Just before the hour, Koné again broke free but fired tamely at Reina, when squaring to Farfán might have been more productive. A few minutes later Edison Méndez let fly from 30 metres and only narrowly missed the target.
With the status quo suiting the visitors more, it was perhaps surprising that they made the first substitution, Xabi Alonso coming on for Mohamed Sissoko. PSV followed suit by replacing one midfielder, Jason Culina, with another, Ismaïl Aissati. Gerrard eventually made his entrance after 72 minutes, for Bellamy, with Rafael Benítez seemingly content to sit tight for a draw.
However, Méndez nearly ruined the plan with a delicious curling drive that just cleared the bar before Kuijt then tried an acrobatic overhead kick that flew well wide. The pace dropped as both sides seemed unable – or unwilling – to go for broke, and the Eindhoven scoreboard remained blank despite Gerrard's late attempt.