Liverpool U23s' pursuit of qualification for the Premier League Cup knockout stages will go down to the final group game after they suffered a 1-0 defeat at Bristol City.
The young Reds topped Group G on goal difference ahead of the trip to Ashton Gate but dropped down to second as a result of their reversal.
The hosts’ win guaranteed their place in the last 16, with the runners-up spot to be decided when Neil Critchley’s side and Stoke City – currently level on seven points – meet on February 26.
It was a youthful Liverpool line-up as the likes of Rafael Camacho, Tom Clayton, Elijah Dixon-Bonner, Curtis Jones and Adam Lewis stepped up from U18 level.
A fortuitous deflection helped City bag the only goal of the game on the half-hour.
Opi Edwards was the beneficiary as his free-kick struck the Reds’ wall and found the net with the diving Caoimhin Kelleher helpless.
Toni Gomes went closest to a response for the visitors with a quarter of an hour remaining, but his header from Camacho’s delivery drifted over the crossbar.
So progress now hinges on the last fixture in the group for Critchley’s charges, who must avoid defeat when they journey to Stoke later this month.
LFCTV GO: Watch highlights of the Bristol City cup tie
Reflecting on the game, Critchley told Liverpoolfc.com: "We had a young side out and it was a good experience for them to play at a first-team stadium.
"On the whole, we did well. We had a lot of possession but didn’t turn that into meaningful chances and didn’t work their goalkeeper enough.
"There were lots of positives to take from the performance, pleasing in some ways but disappointing not to get something out of the game.
"They scored from a deflected free-kick from outside the box which was hard to take.
"We have one game left in the group and I think we will have to win it to qualify against Stoke City, so we look forward to that."
Liverpool U23s: Kelleher, Masterson, Lewis, Clayton, Gallacher, Dixon-Bonner (Tagseth, 89), Camacho, Kane, Gomes (Millar, 78), Jones, Dhanda.
Unused substitutes: George, N. Williams, R. Williams.