Liverpool needed all their European experience to survive a torrid examination in Belarus before emerging with a 1-0 success over Gomel in Brendan Rodgers first competitive game in charge of the Reds.
Gomel are well into their league programme and this showed as overall they were sharper and quicker to the ball than Liverpool who were sloppy in possession and shaky at the back.
The host’s created numerous chances but paid the price on 67 minutes as Steward Downing scored a goal out of nothing. Collecting the ball some 20 yards out the former Villa winger drove a fierce shot into the net.
Moments earlier Gomel had their best chance of the game when Kozenka hit the post and Alumona, who missed a host of chances, failed to convert the rebound.
The visitor’s goal knocked the heart out of Gomel and Liverpool comfortably saw out time and will be favourites to progress in the second leg at Anfield next Thursday.
Referee: Ivan Kruzliak (SLO)
Venue: Central Stadion
Liverpool scorers: Downing 67
Yellow cards: Alumona (GOM), Klimovich (GOM), Henderson (LIV)