Captain Gerrard to the Rescue.

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A stoppage-time penalty from Steven Gerrard ensured the Reds kicked off their return to the Champions League with a winning start against plucky European minnows Ludogorets.

It was far from plain sailing for the hosts at Anfield, as the Bulgarian champions proved worthy opponents in their first ever Champions League appearance.

But after a tight 80 minutes of football Mario Balotelli finally broke the deadlock, opening his account for his new club with a neat half-volley to put the Reds in front.

Their lead didn’t last long, however, as the spirited visitors netted a late equaliser when substitute Dani Abalo found the net in stoppage-time after a swift counter-attack.

And just when it seemed Brendan Rodgers’ side had seen a dream start to their European campaign snatched away, Liverpool were awarded an even later penalty.

It was goalkeeper Milan Borjan who took out Javier Manquillo in the box and captain Gerrard, as he has done on so many occasions, kept his cool under pressure to sweep home from the spot and secure a fortunate three points for the five-time winners.