Captain for the night, Pepe Reina, made an uncharacteristic blunder which saw Steaua score the equaliser in this insipid draw in Bucharest.
Liverpool left many first teamers at home as they took a second string XI to the Romanian capital, knowing a draw would ensure they qualified. Ryan Babel started up front, Joe Cole playing just off him and Dani Pacheco on the right wing.
It was Bucharest who started with the most craft and ability as Liverpool played deep, struggling to get out of their own half. Bicfalvi should have put the home side in front with a free header but put the ball over the bar.
But in the 18th minute some good work on the ball by Jovanovic released Babel on the wing. The Dutchman’s cross was nodded in with ease by the Serbian international.
The reds had a fantastic opportunity to double their lead but Joe Cole’s first touch was weak and the chance was gone.
Steaua had the better of the chances towards the end of their first half but some terrible finishing ensured the reds went in to the break in the lead.
Geraldo Alves went close in the second half before Bucharest eventually got their equaliser.
A header from Bonfim hit the ground just in front of Reina, it went through his legs and despite the keeper’s attempt to claw the ball back it had crossed the line.
Sotirios Kyrgiakos rose highest from a Aurelio corner late on but hit the crossbar with his effort.
Hodgson praised the performance after the game.
“I’m very happy and happy most of all that the team we had confidence in to take on this tough task of playing Steaua away were able to produce the performance and get the result we needed.
Liverpool play FC Utrecht at Anfield in their final group game.