But as channel five's TV audience struggled to stay awake at the end of a week that has been packed with drama in the Champions League, Liverpool and their fans must have wondered how things got this bad.
Manager Benitez fielded a strong side in this last 32 first-leg game, but Liverpool struggled until Ngog headed home.
Frustration: Steven Gerrard can't hide his disappointment
The Liverpool boss was nevertheless satisfied with his side's victory over, despite their obvious struggles to break down the determined Romanians.
'I think we could have scored one or two more goals but that is football,' he said.
'The team was doing well in defence, 1-0 and a clean sheet is not bad. Sometimes when the other team is defending well you have to be patient and keep more of the ball and then we scored at the end.
'It is always important to score, especially in this competition, and not concede so we were waiting for this goal and were really please when we scored.
'It is not the best result but it is good. If we score one [in Romania] they have to score three so a clean sheet was important so we have to be relieved.
'If you ask me if I would prefer 2-0 then 100 per cent yes but you cannot change the score now.
'We knew they were well-organised and they were a good team so we were expecting more or less their style of play.'
Eleven months ago in the Champions League, Liverpool routed Real Madrid 4-0 at Anfield ago - and went on to score four in a quarter-final against Chelsea.
However, Benitez said it was unrealistic to expect his side to consistently repeat those performances.
'We started really well and I was really pleased for a while. We cannot play at the same level that we played against Real Madrid every game, especially when the away team is defending well.
'You have to take you chances and if we had taken the first one in the first minute it could have been totally different but we had to be patient and keep on attacking.
'We were trying, passing the ball and continuing to move the ball.
Winner: Ngog pounces to give Liverpool a first leg lead
Unirea coach Roni Levy believes the tie is far from over.
'I am disappointed in the result. Of course, Liverpool had the ball for most of the game but one moment we didn't concentrate we conceded a goal,' he said.
'y players came and did the best they could do. This is the first half of two legs and I am looking forward to next week.
'It is a good result to take back to Bucharest: there is still a lot of interest in the game and still we have a chance.'
Liverpool have fallen a long way if they can find consolation in winning a second rate cup tie Liverpool 1 Unirea Urzicini 0: David Ngog breaks Iron Curtain as Reds labour past RomaniansLiverpool 1 Unirea 0: As it happenedLIVERPOOL FC