Liverpool wasted a host of chances once again as they dropped more points in the quest for qualification from their Champions League group.
The Reds were dominant right from the off in what is a familiar pattern for Jurgen Klopp’s team, but were unable to fully capitalise on their dominance.
Early possession from the visitors saw them take a firm stranglehold on the game straight away, and although Emre Can was booked early on, they were in complete control.
After ten minutes, the chances began to flow, with Sadio Mane the first to create one, easing past Ilya Kutepov on the left-hand side with a sublime step-over, but his cross was intercepted.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, up from full-back, played a one-two with Mo Salah before he dragged a shot wide of the target, but in the opening exchanges there was only one team in the game.
Before 20 minutes had elapsed, Roberto Firmino should have scored when his free header was palmed away by goalkeeper Artem Rebrov, but the scoreline somehow remained 0-0.
In fact, it was Spartak who took the lead, completely against the run of play, with Fernando stepping up to curl a free-kick in from 25-yards.
It was Coutinho who gave the kick away, but goalkeeper Loris Karius should have been able to make the save. His first task in the game was to pick the ball out of his net with the first shot he faced going in.
Mane thought he had pulled Liverpool level almost immediately, but the goal was correctly ruled out for offside, before he had another effort well held by Rebrov when moving in off the left channel.
Just after the half-hour mark had passed, Coutinho, playing very well in a deeper role, played a one-two with Mane inside the penalty area, and then lifted a shot into the net to equalise.
The two most potent players on the pitch had combined to good effect, but Liverpool still had more work to do if they were to take all three points.
Firmino should have scored when Jordan Henderson’s cross was inexplicably missed by Rebrov, but the number nine was not expecting the ball to reach him, and it rebounded tamely off his leg from five yards out.
Before the break, Liverpool could have scored a second goal when they broke away and had a 4-v-2 opportunity. Alexander-Arnold passed to Henderson, but Mane missed his cross and then Salah could only poke wide from a tight angle.
Despite having all the chances, Liverpool were somehow only level come half-time, with Klopp getting increasingly frustrated on the sideline.
Soon after the restart, Alberto Moreno had a chance to swing in a free-kick, but his cross was easily cleared.
Coutinho showed his teammate how to do it when Liverpool won a second free-kick a minute later, but even though the Brazilian’s shot was aimed hard into the corner, the goalkeeper was able to make the save, pushing the ball to safety.
Mane attempted a through-ball to his opposite wide-man Salah, but the Egyptian could not get on the end of it. Salah felt he had been pushed as he went for the ball, and ended up falling into the legs of Rebrov, who made a meal of the contact.
So much of a meal did the goalkeeper make despite a minimal touch, he ended up using up five minutes getting treatment, before eventually being carted off on a buggy, with Alexandr Selikhov coming on in his place.
Daniel Sturridge and Gini Wijnaldum both came off the bench for Liverpool, but neither was able to make the required impact, as time ticked on and Liverpool got more and more frustrated. By now most of their momentum had been killed by time-wasting tactics on the Russian team’s part.
Firmino was able to nick the ball of Fernando on the edge of his own area, but he could only snatch at the shot that followed, blazing it well over the bar from a fantastic position.
By now it felt like Liverpool were not going to score even with over ten minutes to go.
Firmino lifted an intelligent pass into the path of Sturridge, but the striker could only shoot over from no more than eight yards out.
The substitute got a second chance almost immediately afterwards when Firmino again set him up, this time with a flicked header on, but the ball went out for a goal kick after an initial air shot.
With Spartak players taking as much time as possible over injuries, there was eight minutes of added time indicated, but despite a two minute injury in that period, only thirty seconds more than first advertised was added on.
It was Samedov who went down, and who was eventually replaced, but his time-wasting tactic was allowed to succeed by referee Clement Turpin.
Firmino had the chance to square to Salah for a tap-in but his pull-back was too far behind the winger, and then Salah could only head straight at Selikhov from an Alexander-Arnold cross.
That was the last in a long line of chances Liverpool squandered, and whilst a draw is by no means disastrous in terms of progression from the group, the Reds must start winning at some point.
At the very top level, miss chance after chance and you get punished, and tonight was more than enough proof of that.
Liverpool’s next games in Europe are both against Maribor of Slovenia, in which they will be expecting, and probably needing, to get all three points.
Loris Karius, 5 – hardly had anything to do, but the one time he was tested, he made a mess of the free-kick
Trent Alexander-Arnold, 7 – some good crosses into the box, but not quite the end product needed
Joel Matip, 7 – difficult to judge on a night he had nothing much to do; did well with his limited tests
Dejan Lovren, 7 – a much more assured performance than against Leicester; again, had little to do but did it well
Alberto Moreno, 6 – could have offered more final ball quality into the box; not his greatest night
Jordan Henderson, 7 – often the one to attempt to create space by switching the play, he had little to think about defensively but was not quite sharp enough or quick enough in his passing
Emre Can, 6 – his early booking meant he was scared to put in too many tackles; not enough of an offering in an attacking sense
Philippe Coutinho, 8 – very, very sharp; the goalscorer and the man to create chances on numerous occasions
Mohamed Salah, 7 – could have been more clinical as usual, but he was by no means the only one
Roberto Firmino, 7 – created lots of chances for others but when he had the chance to shoot himself, was not clinical enough and rushed his shot on too many occasions
Sadio Mane, 8 – very good at creating chances throughout and was central to the only goal Liverpool did manage to convert; an odd choice to take him off
Daniel Sturridge (70th minute sub.), 6 – nowhere near the level he was at on Saturday; missed a couple of chances and wanted far too much time on the ball whenever he got it
Gini Wijnaldum (73rd minute sub.), 7 – decent on the ball and got into some good positions; added something that Emre Can could not provide in the final third, even if other players missed the resulting chances
Follow @MattAddison97 on Twitter for updates, photos and more news from VivaFootballCalcio’s Liverpool FC Correspondent.