Fernando Morientes scored twice as Steven Gerrard inspired Liverpool to a win in CSKA Sofia in their Champions League third-round, first leg tie.
Gerrard's disguised pass set up Djibril Cisse to lash a left-foot shot in through keeper Evgheni Hramuc's legs.
The Reds captain's free-kick was then headed in by Morientes before Velizar Dimitrov nodded in for CSKA.
Gerrard surged from midfield to again set up Morientes for a close-range finish to round off the win.
Whistles and booing had greeted Liverpool's early touches, while the visitors also had to contend with CSKA making a lively start.
Cisse scored against the run of play to give Liverpool the lead
Cisse had an angled shot easily saved and John Arne Riise had a goal disallowed for the Reds - but it was CSKA who looked the more threatening early on.
Guillame Zadi ran on to a scything through-ball only to run it wide of goal and out of play after rounding Liverpool keeper Jose Reina.
The Reds were left breathing a sigh of relief and, after weathering the CSKA storm, they delivered a bodyblow to the home side by taking the lead.
Gerrard was predictably involved and, just when it looked like he might shoot, he passed for Cisse to score his fourth goal of the season.
The struggling Morientes grabbed a second for the Reds when he made the most of Gerrard's excellent delivery to head home from six yards.
CSKA were deflated by the double setback but produced a sting in the tail of the first half by pulling a goal back.
Dimitrov stole in at the far post to head in and raise the home side's spirits as well as rouse the crowd again.
Liverpool were being given a testing time and Morientes should have scored again but hit the outside of the post, with only keeper Hramuc to beat.
The Spaniard made up for his miss when he squirmed a shot in as Hramuc allowed the ball to tamely go through his legs for a second time.
Liverpool had a late scare but will take a two-goal cushion into the second leg at Anfield on 23 August.
CSKA Sofia: Hmaruc, Zabavnik, Matic, Todorov, Gueye, Silva, Gargorov, Hidiouad, Yanev (Petar Dimitrov 35), Velizar Dimitrov (Sakaliev 59), Zadi (Yordanov 80).
Subs Not Used: Maksic, Ivanov, Matko, Yurukov.
Goals: Velizar Dimitrov 45.
Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Hyypia, Carragher, Riise, Luis Garcia, Gerrard (Sissoko 70), Alonso (Hamann 64), Warnock, Morientes (Barragan 79), Cisse.
Subs Not Used: Carson, Baros, Whitbread.
Booked: Luis Garcia, Warnock.
Goals: Cisse 25, Morientes 31, 58.
Ref: Jan Wegereef (Holland).