Liverpool escaped with a goalless draw in their Europa League Group K clash in Utrecht after another disjointed and disappointing performance.

Roy Hodgson's side, who had five successive Europa League victories prior to this game, were dominated for long periods and their clean sheet owed much to goalkeeper Jose Reina and a goalline clearance from Raul Meireles.

Liverpool have now gone four matches without a victory in all competitions and Hodgson's blueprint for reinvigorating the team after Rafael Benitez's departure in the summer still looks very much like a work in progress.

In only the fifth minute the prolific Ricky Van Wolfswinkel, scorer of 13 goals in 14 games this season, was given half a chance when Christian Poulsen gave away possession but the 21-year-old striker could only divert Dries Mertens' left-wing cross wide of the far post.

The best first-half chances fell to Utrecht with Jan Wuytens' volley only ruled out for Jacob Mulenga's foul on left-back Martin Kelly and had it not been for Reina saving well at close range from Mertens after Dirk Kuyt, returning to his former club, was slow to react to a loose ball in the penalty area from a corner Liverpool would have been behind.

Fernando Torres had been quiet all night and, early in the second half, when the ball did drop to him in the penalty area from Glen Johnson's cross he hacked wildly at it with his weaker left foot and ballooned a shot over.

But Liverpool were soon on the back foot again with Reina diving at the feet of Wolfswinkel to stop Mulenga's low cross while Meireles cleared off the line from Michael Silverbauer's header when his goalkeeper came for Mertens' corner but missed.

Typically, considering his fortunes this season, Torres' one chance came in the 57th minute but he was denied by a great reaction save from goalkeeper Michel Vorm when Kuyt picked him out with a low, near-post cross.

To compound the Spaniard's frustration referee Duarte Gomes awarded a goal-kick. He was almost gifted another opportunity moments later when Mihai Nesu left his back-pass short but the striker's first touch took the ball out of play as he attempted to round Vorm.

Liverpool were happy with the draw but Mulenga should have snatched victory only to drive wide of Reina's left-hand post with only the goalkeeper to beat.

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Topics:
Europa League
Football
Jose Reina
Glen Johnson
Premier League
Fernando Torres
Michel
Dirk Kuyt
Christian Poulsen
Liverpool
Martin Kelly