Liverpool will return to Anfield next week with a real chance of progressing to the semi-finals of the Europa League, after a hard-fought 1-1 draw in the first leg of their last eight tie in Germany against Borussia Dortmund.
In a match that saw Reds boss Jurgen Klopp return to his former club for the first time, the first real chance for the hosts arrived after 15 minutes, but Marco Reus shot wastefully wide from 20 yards after the ball was half cleared from a free-kick.
Two minutes later, Thomas Tuchel’s side carved out an even better chance; Marcel Schmeltzer cut Julian Wiegl’s defence-splitting ball back into the box, only for Henrikh Mkhitaryan to see his low shot blocked by Mamadou Sakho.
Liverpool’s first sight of goal came in the 21st minute, but defender Dejan Lovren was unable to really test Roman Weidenfeller in the Dortmund goal, heading James Milner’s free kick into the ground before fouling the keeper with his attempted follow-up.
But Klopp’s side secured what could prove to be a crucial away goal in the 36th minute. Striker Divock Origi, preferred up front to Daniel Sturridge, managed to latch on to a flick-on from Jordan Henderson before setting himself and striking a right-footed shot low to the left corner, aided by a slight deflection off the covering Piszczek.
This goal seemed to reignite the home crowd, but the first chance Dortmund had to hit back came two minutes into added time at the end of the half; Mkhitaryan’s delicious pass and Aubameyang’s shot was blocked expertly by Lovren.
From the resulting corner, the ball somehow dropped to Reus on the edge of the six-yard box, but Mignolet produced an outstanding save high to his right to preserve the the visitors’ lead.
The advantage Liverpool took into the second half lasted all of two-and-a-half minutes when a Dortmund corner was only half-cleared, which allowed Mkhitaryan to whip a wicked cross in with his left foot, and captain Mats Hummels managed to get in-between two Reds players to bullet a header low to the left-hand corner.
Origi nearly responded straight from the kick-off, but was unable to give his side the lead again after his good work to get away from Gonzalo Castro and Hummels was undone when he shot wildly off target from 20 yards.
The Dortmund players then had Weidenfeller to thank for his double save in the 51st minute, the first from a Coutinho shot from a Lallana back-heel, and then from Nathaniel Clyne’s 25-yard angled strike, saving smartly to his right on both occasions.
Despite the home side dominating possession and stringing some nice moves together in midfield, the second half went by without them really being able to test Mignolet, so the tie heads to Anfield next week on a knife-edge, which will please Klopp.
Elsewhere, Sevilla took a big step towards qualifying for the semi-finals with a 2-1 victory away against Spanish rivals Athletic Bilbao.
In-form striker Aritz Aduriz gave the home side the lead with a powerful header from inside the centre of the box in the 47th minute, but Timothee Kolodziejczak’s left-footed strike in the 56th minute and Vicente Iborra’s right-footed effort seven minutes from time means the away side hold the advantage going into next week.
Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk also recorded a 2-1 away victory in Portugal against Braga.
Yaroslav Rakitskiy gave Shakhtar the lead just before the interval, with a left-footed shot from a difficult angle, and the lead was then doubled by Facundo Ferreyra, whose effort from close range was enough to beat the Braga keeper on 75 minutes.
Striker Wilson Eduardo grabbed a consolation for the home side, meaning they head to Ukraine with only a slim chance of progressing.
Villarreal gained an advantage going into next week’s fixtures with a 2-1 home win against Sparta Prague.
Cedric Bakambu’s brace gave the Spanish side the victory, with an away goal for the Czech team coming courtesy of centre-back Jakub Brabec.