Jurgen Klopp enjoyed an unbeaten return to Borussia Dortmund as Liverpool secured a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final clash in Germany.
The love and admiration for the Reds boss was clear for all to see in the build-up to his homecoming and it looked like it could be a triumphant one when Divock Origi’s smart finish gave the Merseysiders an interval lead.
The Belgian forward was a surprise starter in place of Daniel Sturridge but ensured his manager got that decision right with a fine performance leading the line that was capped by what could be a priceless away goal in the context of the tie.
Origi should have added a second but couldn’t squeeze his shot beyond Roman Weidenfeller when sent clear in first-half stoppage time.
It proved to be a key moment as Dortmund levelled within three minutes of the restart when Mats Hummels powered home a free header from a short corner.
Set pieces are so often Liverpool’s Achilles heel but focusing on that lapse would be to detract from a well organised defensive performance.
Dortmund had been labelled heavy favourites to make it a nightmare return for their former coach but the much hyped front three of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Marco Reus and Henrikh Mkhitaryan flattered to deceive and when they did threaten the imperious Mamadou Sakho and Dejan Lovren intervened.
Liverpool will feel they have the slight edge going into the second leg at Anfield next Thursday but there was one sour note for the Reds as it was revealed captain Jordan Henderson was replaced at half time after suffering what looks like being a serious injury.
Apart from the battle of the two heavyweights, Villarreal defeated Sparta Prague 2-1 in one of three other encounters in the Europa League.
Cedric Bakambu struck twice in the third and 63rd minutes for the Yellow Submarine while Jakub Brabec got a consolation for the visitors.
Full Europa quarter-final first leg results
Dortmund 1-1 Liverpool
Villarreal 2-0 Sparta Prague
Atletico Bilbao 1-2 Sevilla
Braga 1-2 Sharktar Donetsk