Last Updated: 23/08/12 9:36pm
All that remains is for me to thank you for reading, wish you pleasant Fridays and urge you to return on Saturday for coverage of Swansea v West Ham and much, much more. Bonne nuit.
So, Hearts 0 - 1 Liverpool after what was an entertaining game. The home side gave everything and deserved a draw, Liverpool proving unable to create anything of note bar one gilt-edged opportunity that Borini failed to take. The return leg at Anfield may be rather more one-sided.
Henderson gives away a free-kick midway inside the Hearts half and the hosts have one last chance to launch it, Carragher doing well to clear. And that's that, full-time at Tynecastle and a narrow win for Liverpool.
Morgan's fresh legs work as he makes it much harder for Hearts to stroll forward than was the case before. However, the wasteful Shelvey gives it away again and Paterson can shoot from range, albeit wide of Reina's goal.
Adam Morgan, aged 18, comes on for Borini. He had a good pre-season and is highly-touted at Anfield.
Taouil again tries to orchestrate a Hearts attack, Webster eventually hanging up a cross that Sutton can't get his head to.
Credit to Hearts, who've found the reserves for one last effort as the fourth official calls for a minimum of three added minutes.
Liverpool have retreated onto their own 18-yard line here and Taouil takes advantage by throwing in a cross which falls to Paterson, who thumps a great strike towards the bottom corner and forces a fine save from Reina. World-class all-round.
McGowan bombs forward, finding energy from nowhere yet again, and his cross falls to Driver who shoots low on the turn. He can't get enough on it to trouble Reina, and will rue a missed opportunity.
A final change for Heatys as Scott Robinson comes on in place of Barr. This lad is 20 - Hearts have some good young players coming through it would seem.
Lovely turn from Henderson and a super ball to Borini, who not for the first time is wrongly given offside. A frustrating evening but it was his run into the six-yard box that put pressure on Webster for the goal.
One final effort from Sterling who zig-zags his way into the box before scuffing his shot, which rolls tamely to MacDonald.
Goal-kick for the visitors as the tireless McGowan tries in vain to put pressure on Agger, who has been very good.
Novikovas leaves the pitch after a good shift and is replaced by 18-year-old forward Dale Carrick, who has played a whole minute of first-team football so far in his career.
A word of praise for Jordan Henderson, whose ball it was that found Kelly in space. Of all the midfielders, he's looked comfortably the most composed and hasn't wasted possession nearly as often as Adam and Shelvey.
The last four or five minutes have simply involved Liverpool's defenders knocking the ball from side to side.
With 10 minutes remaining, do Hearts have the energy to mount one last push for a goal? They don't deserve to lose on what we've seen so far, but that's football.
It was Templeton who left the field after a fine display. Liverpool are content to knock it around now as Hearts try to close them down with tired legs.
GOAL! (Webster o.g.)! Space for Kelly down the right and he fizzes in a low cross, which Webster tries to clear but succeeds only in putting into his own net. Very harsh on the hosts but a good ball from Kelly.
Hearts seem to have run out of a bit of steam to me, content now to let Liverpool have it in their own half and dropping ever deeper. It's working though as Liverpool lack ideas.
There are 15 minutes remaining and still we're locked at 0-0 as Adam rather sums up his side's creativity issues with a poor through-ball.
Sterling seems to be running on empty and is out of ideas at the moment. He loses out to McGowan who sets another Hearts attack in motion, but Henderson does well and Liverpool clear.
A first meaningful touch from Allen helps win his side a throw, which eventually ends up back with Reina.
Grainger puts another cross in but Reina is out to deal with it. Liverpool attack and Downing puts in a nice cross which MacDonald does well to collect.
Novikovas delivers it but Adam can clear, however Taouil throws another one back in and Hearts have Liverpool right back on the edge of their own box at the moment.
As I say that, McGowan storms down the right to deliver a cross which results in a corner. He's been excellent tonight.
Kelly does well to deliver a looping cross but Borini can't compete with Webster in the air. Hearts may consider making a change soon as their midfield tire a little.
Liverpool are now controlling possession but Borini really does need help. He looked dangerous when Liverpool broke on the counter but with Hearts deeper, he needs someone to link-up with.
Sterling lays one off to Adam but his shot takes two deflections which kill its speed and allow MacDonald to collect.
Another poor ball forward from Shelvey as Borini looks increasingly isolated. I almost called that dross.
Adam wins what they call a 'cute' free-kick, spotting Grainger coming and going down easily. Nothing cute about that in my book but it comes to nothing.
The game has been a tad scrappy for the last five or six minutes as Liverpool continue to search for space in behind the Hearts midfield, without success at present.
Excellent opportunism by Paterson but Novikovas can't capitalise, before Webster is penalised for a rough challenge on Borini. Not much wrong with that but the referee wasn't amused.
Downing is called into action quickly and does well to keep McGowan out as the Hearts man looks to get in a cross. Goak-kick.
And here is that substitution, Robinson leaving the field to be replaced by Downing. He's going to play at left back, it seems.
McGowan makes a lot of a tiny brush from Sterling but gets what he wanted, and that's a free-kick. Templeton swings in an excellent ball that wins his side a corner, although to me that looked like a goal-kick.
Spearing loses out in midfield and Novikovas spins beautifully before shooting over from distance. There has to be a goal in this somewhere.
Not for the first time this half, Henderson tries to lay in Sterling but the winger is offside. Liverpool are quickly back in control though and Adam's shot from 25 yards isn't far wide of MacDonald's post.
Shelvey is Liverpool's most industrious midfielder, but boy has he given it away a lot tonight. Another such incident sees Hearts break but Taouil's ball is too long and Reina collects.
Agger's defensive header is poor and Paterson breaks into the Liverpool box before volleying over. The 17-year-old has done well tonight.
Again, nice combination play from Henderson and Sterling, but the latter is beaten to the ball by MacDonald who is out quickly to eliminate the threat.
This is much better from Liverpool, who stroke it side to side at last looking confident. Sterling comes inside for space and combines well with Henderson, albeit Hearts cope and put it out for a throw.
Hearts work space and McGowan, who is keen to press forward despite the threat of Sterling, crosses deep. It's too deep, though, and Sutton can't keep it in play.
Shelvey takes it but MacDonald can help it clear, before Henderson runs out of real estate (sorry) as he attempts to beat Grainger. Goal-kick.
Adam is the latest responsible for an aimless punt forward as frustration appears to grow in the Liverpool ranks. However, at the second attempt he puts Sterling through on the left and he wins a corner.
Shelvey tries a clever ball through to Shelvey and it's perfect, but Borini is given offside. That's very close, and the benefit of the doubt should probably have gone to the attacker.
The answer to my earlier question, so far at least, is 'yes' - Hearts continue to deny the visitors time on the ball. I've lost count of the amount of times it's gone back to Reina to clear long.
Hearts and their fans want a free-kick as Robinson goes shoulder-to-shoulder with Temptleton. Some would call is strong, others a clear foul. I'm inbetween. Play on says the ref.
Free-kick given against Adam on halfway and Taouil clips one in, which is cleared by Carragher. Novikovas wins it back and Grainger crosses, the ball eventually going out for a Hearts throw.
Better from Liverpool but Shelvey - not for the first time - plays a poor long-ball which Borini has no chance of collecting.
Odd choice of 'welcome back' song at Hearts, Hey Jude by Liverpool's finest export, The Beatles. Anyway, we're back up and running.
And that's half-time. A lively first half lacking in final-third quality, rather summed up by Borini's miss. Hearts would've been hard-done-by to go in behind and 0-0 seems fair.
It should be 1-0 to Liverpool. A suicidal cross-field ball is intercepted by Sterling who, along with Borini, is two-on-one with Zaliukas. Sterling draws in the defender before laying it off to Borini, who hits the post from 15 yards out. He should've scored.
This time the referee sees an infringement and it's a goal-kick for Hearts. Half-time is fast approaching.
Liverpool break and Borini - who looks like he could be a real player given some service - wins a corner. Eventually it breaks to Adam, who cuts inside then out before shooting with his right foot. It's blocked for another corner.
Hearts win another corner thanks to more good work down the right, targeting no doubt Liverpool's inexperienced left side. Huge appeals for hand-ball from Hearts as the ball hits Carragher, but the referee is right not to give anything as it was from close-range and probably hit him on the back anyway.
Neither side look too concerned though so let's not dwell. Hearts attack down the right and it falls to Templeton, who volleys over from 15 yards with his left foot. It wasn't easy, but he'll be a shade disappointed not to have tested Reina.
Controversial decision here. Agger heads clear, it deflects off Taouil and Borini is through, only to be given offside. He was when Agger headed it, but then it got diverted from Taouil's head. Gigantic grey area.
Agger tries to find Robinson deep in the Hearts half but the young full-back can't keep the ball in play and it's a goal kick, taken by MacDonald.
Paterson plays a weak cross into the Liverpool box which Reina collects. Liverpool attempt to build from the back again but can't get in behind the packed Hearts midfield.
Free-kick for Hearts midway inside the Liverpool half after Novikovas is brought to ground. The Lithuanian swings one in but it's cleared. Neither side can muster a meaningful aerial threat.
Excellent work from Henderson, who finds space on the right. He sees Borini yelling for it, inbetween the defenders after a fine run, but the Italian can't make contact and it's a goal-kick. Big chance, that.
There have been a lot of corners in this match, and each of them terrible. This time, Adam carries the dozen or so men in the box and it's straight out for a goal-kick.
Hearts haven't quite maintained the tempo they started the game with and Liverpool begin to find their rhythm, with Shelvey's through-ball finding Borini who wins a corner.
Templeton attempts to drill one in but it's cleared before the dynamic winger goes down softly after colliding with Borini. No free-kick says the referee, and he's right to say so.
Robinson slips near his own corner flag and allows Paterson in. However, Spearing covers well and puts it out for a Hearts corner.
Better from Shelvey who helps find Sterling, whose shot from 25 yards forces a decent save from MacDonald.
However, McGowan's run leaves Hearts light at the back and Webster has to intervene to stop Sterling, giving away a corner in the process. Again, it's wasted by Liverpool.
Excellent give-and-go between McGowan and Paterson and the Aussie runs directly at the Liverpool defence. Kelly does well to nick it from him; anything mistimed and that'd have been a penalty.
There's been an apparently conscious effort to get Sterling on the ball from Liverpool and it's working to an extent as they enjoy a spell of possession at last.
Heart-stopping moment for McGowan as he slides in to stop Sterling getting a shot off. McGowan's tackle is excellent but only narrowly avoids finding the Hearts net, trickling just wide. The corner is wasted.
Yellow for Barr as he brings down Adam, who was threatening to run at the home side's defence. Liverpool free-kick some 45 yards out.
Our first real glimpse of what Sterling can do as he turns McGowan inside out before shooting from just inside the box. Webster does well to block it, though.
Liverpool slow it down from the back with Agger and Carragher identifying the need to do so. Eventual Reina has to punt clear though as Hearts chase it down relentlessly.
Respite for the visitors as Taouil fouls Henderson, who is struggling to impose himself as he's given little time. Liverpool work it from side-to-side before Shelvey gives it away with an aimless diagonal ball.
Grainger attempts a first-time cross and it's decent, but the resulting deflection rolls safely to Reina. It's all Hearts.
McGowan does well to get deep inside the Liverpool half and win a throw. He launches it into the area but Reina collects comfortably.
Templeton again finds space in the gap between midfield and defence, shooting over from 18 yards out. He's very dangerous.
Corner for Hearts after fine work by the lively Templeton. Novikovas clips it to Barr, 20 yards out, and he strikes it crisply only for Agger to get in the way. Hearts have been watching Manchester United's corner-kick routines.
Liverpool's attempts to relieve pressure are failing as they keep going long to Borini. Dare I say they're missing Carroll's aerial presence? Yes, I dare.
Handbags, so they call it, between Barr and Adam. Nothing much though and play continues with Paterson attacking Robinson, but the 18-year-old does well to clear.
Shelvey looks to have acres of space but Borini can't find him with his through-ball, looking disgusted with himself. However, Shelvey was offside anyway.
This is excellent from Hearts who aren't allowing Liverpool time on the ball. Templeton finds Sutton on the edge of the box and he rolls Carragher before firing wide.
Novikovas takes the corner himself but Adam clears, before Borini does some good work in his own half to ease the heat momentarily.
Hearts waste an opportunity to put pressure on Liverpool by going short but they will have another corner after a fine effort from Novikovas draws a save from Reina.
Better this time from Shelvey but it's cleared before Templeton wins a free-kick. Paterson then wins the home side a corner after showing some muscle against Robinson.
Shelvey takes the corner and goes for the old 'Sheringham'. Sadly, it doesn't work one bit and his side have to settle for another.
Agger goes long towards Borini but it's easy for Zaliukas, who finds Barr. His through-ball is cut out by Kelly and the visitors break, winning a corner after Adam tests MacDonald from range.
Carragher sells Reina very short with a back-pass but the Spaniard is alert and just beats Sutton to it. The home side are operating at a very high tempo without the ball.
Templeton applies some real pressure as Liverpool attempt to build from the bag. Eventually they work it to Sterling who is fouled by McGowan just inside the Hearts half.
Taouil is the one looking to come deep and set the play for Hearts and he triggers a move that sees Sutton briefly threaten down the left. Agger does well though and it's a goal-kick.
Both sides operating similar systems here with Sutton and Borini leading the lines. The former gives away a free-kick as we wait for the game to settle down.
Liverpool are dictating the early moments but Hearts are very busy. A 50-50 between Shelvey and Taouil sees the latter win a free kick on halfway.
Sterling attempts to go past McGowan on the left but the Australian does well to tackle. Adam receives the ball after the resulting throw in but his cross is too deep.
Liverpool get the game under way and immediately go long towards Borini, but it's easy for Hearts and MacDonald collects.
The teams are on their way out and there's a fantastic atmosphere at a packed Tynecastle. Kick off is just minutes away.
Colin has interesting news: 'Carroll injured and had scan today. It was on LFC website in interview with Rogers.' I'm not totally convinced myself, but the next few days will reveal all.
In last year's competition, Tottenham beat Hearts 5-0 at Tynecastle despite resting one or two. Can Liverpool do the same? I'd be surprised were it quite so one-sided, but Hearts will find it hard to score I fancy.
So what of recent form? Well, Liverpool of course were thumped 3-0 at West Brom at the weekend but that was a funny game and there were positives to take. Hearts were 2-0 up at home against 10-man Inverness, but conceded twice in the second half to draw 2-2. Before that, they drew 1-1 at Hibs, a fixture they've done well in. They need to improve tonight.
Chris James tweets: 'Evening Ben 4-0 Liverpool :) Sterling, Borini x 2 and Morgan scoring from the bench. Come on you redmen!'. I do love it when people are specific with their predictions. Good luck Chris.
Our friends at Sky Bet make Liverpool 1/2 favourites despite Carroll's absence, with the draw 31/10 and Hearts 11/2. When I took a look at the game I thought 1-0 (4/1) and 2-0 (9/2) scorelines in Liverpool's favour were the way to go. You?
Keith writes: 'Andy Carroll not even in the subs what's wrong? Does this mean he is about to leave?' while Scott from Texas says: Anybody else notice that Andy Carroll is not even on the substitutes bench tonight? There is a number 50 squad number in the team, while Andy Carroll is not. Anybody find this odd?
A couple of you have been quick to note that Andy Carroll does not feature for Liverpool. It would appear he's soon to exit Anfield, wouldn't it?
Liverpool: Reina, Kelly, Carragher, Agger, Robinson, Henderson, Adam, Spearing, Shelvey, Borini, Sterling. Subs: Jones, Coates, Downing, Lucas, Allen, Flanagan, Morgan.
Here are the teams. Hearts: MacDonald, Ryan McGowan, Webster, Zaliukas, Granger, Paterson, Barr, Taouil, Novikovas, Templeton, Sutton. Subs: Enckelman, Robinson, Driver, Smith, Dylan McGowan, McHattie, Carrick.
We'll get some team news shortly and then see how they've priced it up at Sky Bet, but first details of how to contact me: email@example.com is the email address, while you can tweet me @BenColeyGolf.