Guangzhou - Liverpool were rocked by two late goals from lowly Guangdong Sunray Cave on Wednesday but survived to win 4-3 at the start of their Asian tour.
The 18-time English champions, boosted by new signing Charlie Adam's first appearance and a goal-scoring debut from Conor Coady, had looked set for an emphatic victory until the Chinese team's last-gasp double.
Lu Lin and Yin Hongbo both took advantage of slack defending to lift the home crowd and give coach Kenny Dalglish something to think about as Liverpool head to Malaysia.
Liverpool, fielding an unfamiliar line-up, scored first through Christian Poulsen's sweet volley on 19 minutes before David Ngog doubled their lead two minutes later.
But Guangdong's Ricardo powered home a header on the stroke of half-time to make it 2-1 in the southern Chinese metropolis of Guangzhou.
After a quiet start to the second half, former England under-17 captain Coady, 18, ran onto a through-ball from striker Andy Carroll and lashed home a strong finish to make it 3-1.
And when Carroll finished from close range with five minutes to go, with substitute Adam patrolling the middle of the park, it looked like game over for Guangdong.
But Lu easily rounded defender Andre Wisdom and buried his shot before Yin embarrassed Daniel Agger as Guangdong threatened to make the latest of comebacks.
Liverpool now travel to Kuala Lumpur, where they have a large following, to play a Malaysian XI on Saturday.