The Reds take a narrow lead back to Anfield, with the hosts a disappointing outfit, making little out of their dominating second-half performance
The loss serves as City’s second at home in four days following the defeat to local rival Manchester City on Sunday, whereas the visitors found more cup success after their 5-1 win over Oldham last Friday.Liverpool pressed from the off and Carroll was handed a prime chance for Liverpool to open the scoring after the striker was set through on goal by Downing and shrugged off Savic to power a shot at the City net, but a commanding save from Joe Hart kept out the former Newcastle United man.
City had barely attacked in the Reds’ third before Gerrard fired a stinging shot at Hart which dipped at the far corner, but the Blues’ ‘keeper reacted quick enough to palm the Liverpool skipper’s effort out for a corner.
From the set-piece, a rehearsed move between Gerrard and Downing had the latter testing Hart for the third time since the off and from distance. The winger’s wicked attempt on the volley from outside the box was deflected by a Liverpool attacker in the box, but the England international saw it just in time to instinctively push it out for another corner.
The Liverpool captain was able to influence the game once more following the visitors being awarded a penalty after Daniel Agger was brought down by a clumsy Savic, stopping the Dane from powering through on goal. Gerrard stepped up to the spot-kick and slotted the ball home past Hart to put the Reds in the lead.
City finally tested Pepe Reina with a shot on target from substitute Samir Nasri that came from distance and forced the Spaniard to get down and make the stop.
The hosts’ frustration though was left to simmer as no further conviction was showed by the men in blue and they appeared some way behind the visitors in terms of team spirit and convincing soccer, as both sides went into the break with Liverpool definitely the stronger outfit.
Reina was the only ‘keeper brought into action in the opening 15 minutes of the second half after Micah Richards leapt up for a corner and did well to get his head to the incoming ball, but the Reds’ stopper halted the effort well.
As the second period progressed Liverpool allowed City to press, a move that may have cost the lead if it weren’t for tenacious tackling and failed attacks from the hosts. Aguero was able to become a nuisance and took the Reds’ defense on numerous times with attractive movement, but the Argentine couldn’t convert his skill into any serious effort on goal.Aguero went close near the end, but his close range effort stormed just inches over the bar and left the Reds to be the much happier side going into the second leg in a fortnight's time.