Liverpool held Chelsea to a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge to leave the all-Premiership Champions League semi-final hanging in the balance.
Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard missed clear chances for Chelsea in the first half as Jose Mourinho's side pressed for a crucial advantage.
But Chelsea keeper Petr Cech saved from John Arne Riise and Milan Baros to deny Liverpool an away goal.
The second half was a sterile affair with neither side carving out chances.
Liverpool will be the happier side, but they suffered a blow late on when Xabi Alonso picked up a booking for a foul on Eidur Gudjohnsen that rules the Spanish midfielder out of the second leg at Anfield.
Chelsea lost Damien Duff prior to kick-off when he failed a fitness test on a hamstring injury, while his fellow winger Arjen Robben was restricted to a place on the bench.
And they had the better of the opportunities in a surprisingly adventurous opening period.
Drogba was guilty of a bad miss after 13 minutes, shooting wastefully across the face of goal after escaping the attentions of Liverpool's defence only 10 yards out.
But Riise wasted an even bigger opportunity for Liverpool five minutes later, forcing a vital block from Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech.
Chelsea continued to look more dangerous and Lampard squandered the best chance of the night after 21 minutes.
Joe Cole knocked down William Gallas' cross to Lampard only eight yards out, and he somehow missed the target with the goal at his mercy.
Cech came to Chelsea's rescue with a stunning save seven minutes before the interval.
Steven Gerrard's cross was flicked on by the head of Baros, but Cech dived acrobatically to his right to palm the effort away to safety.
Liverpool were lucky to survive a scramble as half-time approached, with John Terry's shot drifting narrowly off target.
Chelsea set the pace after the break, and it needed a brilliant saving tackle from Sami Hyypia to halt Cole as he drove at the heart of the Liverpool defence.
Mourinho introduced Robben just before the hour, replacing the ineffective Tiago.
And Liverpool also made a change after 65 minutes, with Djibril Cisse replacing Baros, who had had a disappointing night.
Liverpool had kept Chelsea at arm's length in the second half, and Mourinho attempted to inject impetus by sending on Mateja Kezman for Cole with 13 minutes left.
But neither side could make the breakthrough and Liverpool will be content with the draw going into the second leg on 3 May.
Chelsea: Cech, Johnson, Terry, Ricardo Carvalho, Gallas, Tiago (Robben 59), Makelele, Lampard, Gudjohnsen, Drogba, Cole (Kezman 78).
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Smertin, Geremi, Forssell, Huth.
Booked: Cole, Kezman.
Liverpool: Dudek, Finnan, Hyypia, Traore, Carragher, Riise, Gerrard, Alonso, Biscan (Kewell 86), Luis Garcia (Smicer 90), Baros (Cisse 65).
Subs Not Used: Carson, Le Tallec, Nunez, Warnock.
Booked: Biscan, Alonso.
Ref: Alain Sars (France).