Liverpool under-18s have much to do if they are to retain the FA Youth Cup after going down 2-1 to Manchester United at Anfield on Monday night.
The Reds lost the first leg of the final in front of Rafa Benitez, Alex Ferguson and 19,518 spectators despite taking an early lead through Craig Lindfield.
A second-half penalty from United captain Sam Hewson and an own goal from defender Robbie Threlfall left Steve Heighway's men with a small mountain to climb in the return leg at Old Trafford on April 26.
It was United who created the game's first chance when Febian Brandy broke free on eight minutes only to blast his 20-yard effort narrowly wide of Martin Hansen's goal.
Six minutes later Brandy's strike-partner Christopher Fagan also ran clear, but this time the shot was spooned towards the corner flag.
The Reds, meanwhile, seemed to be settling into their stride and showed no signs of being overawed by the occasion nor the cameras. In fact, Gerrard, Carragher, Reina and Alonso in the directors' box were witnessing some of the best football the youngsters had produced throughout this season's cup campaign.
It wasn't too long before their tidy football paid dividends when Ray Putterill, who's clearly learnt a thing or two about wingplay from Academy director Steve Heighway, supplied a teasing cross for the onrushing Lindfield. The striker bravely beat United keeper Ron-Robert Zieler to head home his fourth Youth Cup goal of the season and make it 1-0 after 16 minutes.
Somewhat stunned, the visitors tried to build up a head of steam but were more often than not thwarted by a dogged Liverpool backline.
The game was being played in good spirit, helped by some common-sense refereeing from Mark Clattenburg.
On 21 minutes a goalmouth scramble teed up Brandy, but his acrobatic effort dropped harmlessly into the Anfield Road hoardings.
Ten minutes later Fagan forced a superb save from the holders' Danish keeper after an excellent run down the left by danger-man Daniel Welbeck.
Despite having more shots on goal, United, without defensive linchpin Craig Cathcart because of a first-team call-up, were frequently made to look vulnerable by some superb deliveries into the box.
Manager Paul McGuinness will have demanded his side make their pressure pay in the second half – and he didn't have to wait long for his wish to be granted.
Reds centre-back Threlfall will doubtless have dreamt about heading the ball in at the Kop end, but what happened on 50 minutes was the stuff of nightmares.
The defender, aiming to nod out for a corner, was dealt a terrible slice of luck when the ball crashed past a helpless Hansen and into the net. United, chasing a record 10th Youth Cup, were level.
To be fair, Steve Heighway's side, who were without the suspended Astrit Ajdarevic, never let their heads drop, and they nearly went back in front on 66 minutes when Jimmy Ryan drilled a fierce shot into the side netting.
Minutes later the impressive Ray Putterill curled over from 15 yards. The Kop was starting to find its voice.
Unfortunately, they were soon to be silenced. Seventeen minutes were left on the clock when captain fantastic Jay Spearing downed Brandy in the box. Hewson made no mistake from the spot despite the best efforts of the Kop to unnerve him.
Liverpoolfc.tv man-of-the match: Ray Putterill.
Liverpool: Hansen, Darby, Burns, Spearing (capt), Threlfall, Barnett, Ryan, Flynn, Lindfield, Woodward (Eccleston 67), Putterill. Subs not used: Irwin, Roberts, Highdale, Parsonage.
Man Utd: Zieler, Eckersley, Evans, Strickland, Chester, Drinkwater (Bryan 74), Welbeck, Hewson (capt), Brandy (James 90), Fagan, Galbraith. Subs not used: McCormack, Woods, Moffatt.