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Liverpool through despite defeat

Liverpool FC 0-1 PFC CSKA Sofia (agg: 3-2) Holders progress despite Valentin Iliev's goal on a nervy night at Anfield.

Holders Liverpool FC moved through to the draw for the UEFA Champions League group stages despite falling to a 1-0 defeat against PFC CSKA Sofia at Anfield, their 3-1 first-leg proving crucial.

Iliev strike
With Steven Gerrard injured, Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez also rested José Manuel Reina, Xabi Alonso, Jamie Carragher and Boudewijn Zenden and it was Sofia who looked the better side, taking an early lead with a Valentin Iliev goal and threatening to level the scores on aggregate more than once.

Bright start
Benítez's side had begun brightly enough, Djibril Cissé going close in the opening exchanges before Fernando Morientes sent an 18-metre effort narrowly over. But any thoughts of a comfortable home win vanished on 15 minutes when CSKA took the lead.

Carson beaten
Mohamed Sissoko was penalised for a foul on Emil Gargorov, and when Yordan Yurukov laid the ball back, Iliev saw his curling effort from range escape Scott Carson's dive and nestle in the far corner to stun the home crowd.

Todorov miss
The visitors almost doubled their lead on the night five minutes later when Carson raced out of his area to block Guillame Zadi's run and the ball broke for Yordan Todorov 25 metres from goal - but he lifted his shot over the empty target.

Riise chances
Benítez replaced teenager Darren Potter with Luís Garcia at the interval and John-Arne Riise almost equalised soon afterwards when his 25-metre effort was tipped over by the CSKA goalkeeper. The Norwegian fired wide on 50 minutes and later saw a 15-metre drive deflected over the crossbar as the Liverpool fans grew increasingly tense.

Goal disallowed
CSKA were still able to find space on the flanks, with Todorov and Murad Hidiouad controlling the midfield and although Sissoko hit the crossbar for the home team, it was the visitors who went closest to a second goal, Velizar Dimitrov tapping in from close range only to see his effort ruled out for offside.