Reds pegged back in Bucharest bog
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
But the striker who scored home and away against Southampton displayed his fondness for English opposition again with an equaliser which gives Steaua hope of a second Premiership scalp.
And though Liverpool remain the favourites in the clash of two former European Cup winners, their visit to Romania would have ended in defeat but for a glaring miss by the substitute Adrian Neaga and the indomitability of Jerzy Dudek.
The worst pitch Houllier said he has ever seen was more Aintree than Anfield and it was Djimi Traore, with no goalscoring pedigree, who provided the Liverpool goal. As on their previous trip to Eastern Europe, however, Liverpool had to be content with a draw.
After Traore's strike, Houllier's constant refrain this season - that Liverpool are creating chances - was cruelly accurate. Defensive deficiencies meant that a series of misses - John Arne Riise the prime culprit - proved costly.
Both sides floundered in the Bucharest bog for 23 minutes before Traore's maiden goal for Liverpool; following Steven Gerrard's short corner, the left back cut in to curl his shot in with unexpected aplomb.
Steven Gerrard, in a thoroughbred performance, was at the heart of much of Liverpool's best moves as, their initial misgivings over the pitch overcome, they became more adventurous.
Only Mirel Matei Radoi's sliding goalline clearance denied Harry Kewell a second; like a later chance for John Arne Riise, the Australian owed much to Gerrard's perceptive passing, who breached the Steaua defence for Kewell to round the keeper.
And the Liverpool captain's quick thinking helped fashion a gilt-edged opportunity for the Norwegian though, as he was heading El-Hadji Diouf's cross wide, Emile Heskey was appealing for a penalty for an apparent push.
However, even Gerrard was fallible. His backpass landed in an inconvenient puddle, Raducanu nipped in and Jerzy Dudek came to his skipper's rescue.
With Steaua's defence hesitant in the air, Liverpool should have exploited their aerial advantage, but Emile Heskey, Anthony Le Tallec and Riise did not make Vasili Hamutovski work. Riise did force one save but, through on goal, his tame sidefoot was easy for the Steaua shot-stopper.
And then Igor Biscan and Sami Hyypia watched one another as Raducanu sprung the offside trap to finish rather better than Riise. It was not Liverpool's first aberration at the back; lax defending had nearly handed Steaua a leveller earlier. Traore was relieved to see his clearance, needlessly directed at Raducanu, rebound just past a post.
There was more to admire in Dorel Mutica's dipping volley which Dudek brilliantly tipped on to the bar; had that, or Neaga's header, gone in then Houllier's complaints about the pitch may have been more pronounced.