Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson's gamble in leaving at home a handful of his senior players - including Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard - paid off in some respect as his side claimed a well-earned Europa League draw against Napoli in the Stadio San Paolo.
Many tipped the hopelessly out-of-form Reds for defeat after bringing a weakened side to Naples, but they withstood long spells of pressure to leave with a point.
The closest they came to conceding was in first-half added time when Paul Konchesky cleared Marek Hamsik's shot off the line in the nick of time, while Ryan Babel could have snatched victory with 20 minutes to go but shot too close to goalkeeper Morgan de Sanctis.
Hodgson had admitted in his pre-match press conference that the Premier League had to take priority because of their woeful start to the season, with just one win in eight games leaving them 19th in the table, and that was why he had rested Torres, Gerrard, Raul Meireles and Lucas Leiva.
He said if they lost in Naples he would expect to receive criticism. He avoided the former but it is unlikely the latter will dissipate any time soon as even a win over Blackburn on Sunday will probably not end the growing murmurings of discontent within Anfield.
At least this performance, unlike the Merseyside derby defeat last weekend, showed some grit and determination and keeps Liverpool on course for progress to the knockout phase as they have taken five points from their three group matches so far, and still have home games against Utrecht and Napoli.
It is a competition which has so far been much kinder to Hodgson but, unfortunately for him, if he cannot turn around the team's domestic form, no number of good performances in Europe are going to ease the pressure on him.
Getting to the latter stages of the Europa League but still being stuck in the lower reaches of the Premier League is unlikely to carry much weight with new owners New England Sports Ventures, who expect to see more from their £300 million investment.
After the previous night's attacks on fans and some limited patches of trouble prior to kick-off, the atmosphere inside the stadium was equally as daunting for the players as the streets of Naples had been for supporters.
However, the visitors did a good job of negating all that early fervour with a disciplined, solid start and the whistles which greeted any spell of Liverpool possession were deafening.
Ezequiel Lavezzi's corner saw Cristian Maggio divert the ball goalwards only for Edinson Cavani to head it away as he tried to get a decisive touch.
Napoli were starting to take control but Lavezzi's long-range strike flew well over Jose Reina's crossbar.
In the 33rd minute Jonjo Shelvey combined with Jay Spearing but the shot with his weaker left foot was straight at goalkeeper De Sanctis.
He was obviously not short of confidence as he tried to lob De Sanctis from the halfway line but hardly extended the goalkeeper let alone tested him.
But they had a lucky escape in first-half stoppage time with a controversial incident which will again bring up the issue of goal-line technology.
Maggio's corner fell to Cavani who beat Jamie Carragher and fired in a low cross which Hamsik diverted goalwards and it was unclear whether the ball had crossed the line before Konchesky cleared.
Carragher was replaced for the second half by Sotirios Kyrgiakos as Napoli seized the initiative again.
Cavani wasted a good chance before Michele Pazienza was booked for a wild lunge which caught Spearing in the face as he stooped to head the ball and, after initial concerns about the midfielder, he was able to continue after treatment.
Napoli continued to press but Babel should have snatched the lead with the best chance of the night when he was played through by Jovanovic in acres of space on the left of the penalty area.
The Holland international opted to shoot right-footed across De Sanctis but placed his effort too close to the goalkeeper, who saved with his feet.
Ngog also went close when he turned in the area only for his shot to be charged down by Salvatore Aronica.
Liverpool escaped with a goalless draw in their Europa League Group K clash in Utrecht after another disjointed and disappointing performance.
A point in the Stadion Galgenwaard, where the hosts had won their previous six matches, was no disgrace but it was hardly one of those classic, gritty away performances in Europe.
Roy Hodgson's side, who had five successive Europa League victories prior to this game, were dominated for long periods and their clean sheet owed much to goalkeeper Jose Reina and a goalline clearance from Raul Meireles.
Liverpool have now gone four matches without a victory in all competitions and Hodgson's blueprint for reinvigorating the team after Rafael Benitez's departure in the summer still looks very much like a work in progress.
Without their captain Steven Gerrard, left behind to rest on Merseyside, the side looked devoid of ideas and even the presence of Fernando Torres for his first Europa League start of the campaign did not help.
The only real positive to come out of the game was that the five-time European champions and winners of this competition on a record-equalling three occasions, extended their impressive statistics against Dutch clubs.
Since losing their first encounter against Ajax in 1966 they have now not been beaten in 12 matches against teams from the Netherlands.
But that run came close to being ended on a number of occasions as Utrecht were the better side from the off.
In only the fifth minute the prolific Ricky Van Wolfswinkel, scorer of 13 goals in 14 games this season, was given half a chance when Christian Poulsen gave away possession but the 21-year-old striker could only divert Dries Mertens' left-wing cross wide of the far post.
Liverpool fashioned three or four openings - none of which could be described in any way as good - with Meireles both shooting and heading at goalkeeper Michel Vorm either side of off-target efforts from Lucas Leiva and Joe Cole.
Torres also curled a shot wide after turning and shooting from the edge of the area.
But the best first-half chances fell to Utrecht with Jan Wuytens' volley only ruled out for Jacob Mulenga's foul on Martin Kelly, makeshift left-back in the absence of the injured trio of Paul Konchesky, Daniel Agger and Fabio Aurelio.
And had it not been for Reina saving well at close range from Mertens after Dirk Kuyt, returning to his former club, was slow to react to a loose ball in the penalty area from a corner Liverpool would have been behind at half-time.
Torres had been quiet all night and, early in the second half, when the ball did drop to him in the penalty area from Glen Johnson's cross he hacked wildly at it with his weaker left foot and ballooned a shot over.
But Liverpool were soon on the back foot again with Reina diving at the feet of Wolfswinkel to stop Mulenga's low cross while Meireles cleared off the line from Michael Silverbauer's header when his goalkeeper came for Mertens' corner but missed.
Typically, considering his fortunes this season, Torres' one chance came in the 57th minute but he was denied by a great reaction save from Vorm when Kuyt picked him out with a low, near-post cross.
To compound the Spaniard's frustration referee Duarte Gomes awarded a goal-kick.
He was almost gifted another opportunity moments later when Mihai Nesu left his back-pass short but the striker's first touch took the ball out of play as he attempted to round Vorm.
As the match entered its closing stages it was Utrecht who looked the most likely scorers.
Maxi Rodriguez's first touch after replacing Cole with eight minutes to go saw him attempt an ambitious overhead kick which failed to hit the target.
Liverpool were happy with the draw but Mulenga should have snatched victory only to drive wide of Reina's left-hand post with only the goalkeeper to beat.
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