The music swelled and the supporters cheered and for a brief moment Liverpool were back where they belonged in Europe. Then the match kicked off, and for the longest time it looked an evening incapable of living up to that pre-match buildup. Despite the three points in the end, it perhaps never fully did.
There were, though, a few bright spots for a Liverpool side that on the whole struggled to put on a cohesive, convincing performance. Jordan Henderson's workrate kept Liverpool in control even if that control largely failed to turn into more, and Mario Balotelli did what he needed to when it mattered most. The star showing, though, came from Alberto Moreno.
"It was a tough game, a complicated game," was the fullback's rather understated take on a very difficult night at Anfield, but one that in the end saw the hosts scrape through in the end. "We knew there was no guarantee of the three points and that we were going to have to do a good job. You could see we gave everything and did all we could to get the three points."
The 22-year-old Spaniard has impressed since arriving at Liverpool, and he only seems to get better with every match. A few calibration issues with his crossing early in the game aside, he was as good as he's been—and as good as Liverpool have seen a left back be in a long time—in another man of the match performance last night.
Elsewhere there was effort, but it lacked cohesion and precision. Passes went astray and players found themselves slightly out of sync, including Moreno on a few occasions, most notably in stoppage time when he raced into space to offer a pressured Raheem Sterling an easy outlet only for the attacker to dither and have his pocket picked, leading to Ludogorets' only goal.
What matters in the end, though, is the win. A win in large part thanks to Moreno, who stopped what seemed a sure goal in the second half before racing to the other end to play in Balotelli for the opener. It was a hard game, and there were problems, but in the end were three points, and that's a much better place to be talking problems from than the alternative.
"The team did a good job and when you lose it in the last few minutes with the equaliser but then get a goal in your favour, it's a great delight, especially for the job the team did," he added. "It was a hard game and we're happy with the three points."