Liverpool's undermanned defence held out for a precious clean
sheet but Bayern Munich will also be confident of progress to the
Champions League quarter-finals after a 0-0 draw in the first leg
of their last 16 tie at Anfield on Tuesday.
Sadio Mane wasted the best chance for the hosts when the
Senegalese forward fired wide during an open first 45 minutes,
but a cagey second half left it all to be decided when the sides
meet again in Munich on March 13.
Without the talismanic presence of Virgil van Dijk through
suspension and the injured Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren, Liverpool
were forced to name a make-shift central defence with Brazilian
midfielder Fabinho moved back to partner Joel Matip.
That unfamiliarity showed in the early stages as the hosts
started nervously at the back.
Matip breathed a sigh of relief when he turned Serge Gnabry's
driven cross towards his own goal only for the ball to bounce to
safety off Alisson Becker's chest.
However, the Brazilian goalkeeper played his side into trouble
moments later to put pressure on Matip and when he was
dispossessed by Robert Lewandowski, Kingsley Coman fired into the
Liverpool were also posing plenty of problems at the other end
when they got Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Mane into
Salah headed wide at the back post from Trent Alexander-Arnold's
perfectly measured cross.
Mane then passed up the best chance for either side as he shot
wide on the turn after Naby Keita's initial effort was blocked by
the arm of Niklas Suele.
Matip could not force home Firmino's unselfish cross with the
chance to open the scoring at the right end and Mane sent a
spectacular overhead kick effort high and wide as the Premier
League side ended the half on top.
Bayern may not have hit the heights of previous years in the
Bundesliga this season as they trail Borussia Dortmund by three
points in their quest to land a seventh straight league title.
However, the German champions have made the last eight of the
Champions League for each of the past seven seasons and had the
experience to hold out for what they clearly saw as a valuable
draw as they wound the clock down in the final stages.
Liverpool had 10 days off to prepare for Bayern's visit due to
their early exit in the FA Cup and looked the fresher side as
they pressed for a winner.
Matip wasted another good chance by firing well off target from
the edge of the area before Manuel Neuer produced his best save
of the night to turn Mane's header behind five minutes from time.
Jurgen Klopp's men have lost all of their last five Champions
League games away from Anfield, including last season's final.
The return of Van Dijk will aid their chances, but that rot will
need to stop in Munich in three weeks' time if they are to reach
the last eight.