Liverpool solved their European scoring problem but defensive frailty almost cost them against Galatasaray in the Champions League tonight.
Rafael Benitez's side comfortably opened up a three-goal lead at Anfield but then almost paid the price as the Turkish side hit back strongly and may have left wondering why they did not attack earlier.
Peter Crouch and Luis Garcia gave Liverpool a 2-0 first-half advantage and it could have been more.
And when Crouch blasted a spectacular third the night should have been a stroll.
But Galatasaray started to attack with a vengeance and substitute Umit Karan twice headed goals to give the Turks real hope of a miracle recovery.
Somehow Liverpool clung onto three precious Group C points, but they will have to sort out their defence if they aim to get beyond the Champions League group stages.
True to his word, Benitez rotated his squad again, with the significant return to a central midfield role for captain Steven Gerrard.
John Arne Riise, Craig Bellamy, Mohamed Sissoko and Mark Gonzalez - all starters in the weekend win over Tottenham - were on the substitutes' bench with Fabio Aurelio, Jermaine Pennant and Jamie Carragher returning along with Crouch.
The Turkish champions had former Liverpool defender Rigobert Song fit to play after a calf injury and he was given a warm welcome by the Kop.
Liverpool pinned Gala back from the start, using both flanks and peppering the defence with crosses.
One surging run from Gerrard onto a Crouch flick almost saw a breakthrough, and the Liverpool skipper next sliced wide from 20 yards from Dirk Kuyt's ball.
Then Kuyt set up Luis Garcia to cut inside and force Farid Mondragon into a plunging save to his left. From the corner, Daniel Agger rose to head wide.
And Liverpool got the early lead they desired on nine minutes. Gerrard passed left for Aurelio and his first time cross was met perfectly by Crouch to power a first time volley past the motionless Colombian goalkeeper.
Liverpool were two ahead on 14 minutes. Pennant punished Orhan Ak for some poor defending, forced his way to the byline and presented Luis Garcia with the chance to head powerfully home as he arrived at pace on the far post.
Jose Reina was called into action to stop Galatasaray from cutting the deficit when Sasa Ilic's fine pass put Cihan Haspolatli clear on the right. But the Spanish keeper blocked the resulting angled drive.
Liverpool attacked with pace and width and when Pennant sprinted 60 yards before crossing to Kuyt, the ball ended up at Luis Garcia's feet and he curled a shot just wide of the angle.
Ayhan Akman was booked on 34 minutes for a foul on Luis Garcia, Liverpool's crisp, quick passing causing the Turks plenty of problems.
Then Mondragon had to race 40 yards from his line to crash the ball away as Kuyt galloped clear, before deflecting a Gerrard 30-yarder over the bar with his knee.
Galatasaray made two changes at the break, sending on Karan and Hasan Sas for Mehmet Topal and Haspolatli, having now to play with two up front if they were going to get anything from the game.
Sas made an immediate impact with a twisting, high speed run from the right, but his final pass went astray.
But Liverpool thought they had put the game beyond reach on 52 minutes with a stunning strike from Crouch. Pennant fed Steve Finnan on the right and the Irishman beat Ak to fire over a fierce cross that Crouch met with a brilliant hooked volley.
Yet Gala hit back with efforts from Sabri Sarioglu and Sukur both going close, but Liverpool were hunting more with Kuyt seeing a low shot turned onto a post by Mondragon and the keeper blocking Gerrard's follow-up.
And Galatasaray did get themselves back into the game on 59 minutes when Karan headed home from a Arda Turan cross.
The Turks now had pace and desire, and were getting at Liverpool's back line. And they were really back in the game on 65 minutes when Karan got his second, another header, this time from Ilic's cross.
The night now became one of tension for Liverpool so Pennant was withdrawn and Sissoko sent on to add some bite to a midfield now being run through by the Turks.
Galatasaray continued to cause immense problems at the heart of Liverpool's defence and Sukur wasted a good chance by planting his downward header much too close to Reina, who by now was having a really shaky period under fire.
Bellamy came on for Crouch with a couple of minutes left but there was still time for Sukur to waste another chance 10 yards out.
Paul Walker, PA Sport
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