The excellent McCarthy has Chris Gunter to thank for keeping out a goalbound Luis Suarez effort in the opening moments, but after that it was pretty much a one-man show as the England under-21 goalkeeper saved from Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard to preserve a point for the relegation strugglers.
Suarez, Sturridge, substitute Stewart Downing and the impressive Philippe Coutinho all fired narrowly wide as the Reds chased what would have been a deserved winner, but ultimately Brendan Rodgers was left grateful for a fine stop from Pepe Reina to deny Noel Hunt what would have been an undeserved Reading winner.
Here are the ratings out of 10 for the Liverpool players:
Pepe Reina: 7
Largely anonymous for the vast majority of the match given Liverpool's dominance in the attacking third, but he made a fine save to deny Noel Hunt what many Reds fans will have felt was a depressingly inevitable Reading winner.
Glen Johnson: 5
Almost provided Steven Gerrard with the winner following a fine cut back from which the Reading goalkeeper made yet another fantastic save, but he didn't get forward enough and provide the Reds with the width they were lacking.
Jamie Carragher: 6
Didn't have much to do, and will be happy to have kept a clean sheet only six games from the end of his Reds career.
Daniel Agger: 6
A quiet afternoon for the Dane, and one during which he was rarely troubled.
Jose Enrique: 5
Like Johnson, his presence was sadly lacking when the Reds needed him to provide width to their attack, and as such he didn't impact on the game in the way he might have done.
A decent enough afternoon for Lucas, who still doesn't convince you that he's reached the heights he was capable of before his long-term injury. Was booked for a late challenge in the first half.
Jordan Henderson: 5
Has deserved his place in the team based on recent displays, but struggled to impress here. Tried as hard as ever to help out Liverpool on the search for a winner, but ultimately fell as short as the team did.
Steven Gerrard: 7
Was the heart and soul of the attempt to bag a deserved victory but was ultimately left deflated. Gerrard would have scored a close range effort but for McCarthy's fine save, and he left the stage frustrated.
Philippe Coutinho: 8
An impressive if frustrating afternoon for the Brazilian, who has already established himself as a key performer for the Reds. If a goal was going to come then he was going to be a part of it, but ultimately both he and his teammates were left frustrated.
Luis Suarez: 7
Four league games without a goal represents a drought for Suarez, who more than anyone was left frustrated by McCarthy's brilliance. He'll rediscover his scoring touch soon though, and his opposition must beware.
Daniel Sturridge: 5
Restored to the side after supposedly impressing Rodgers in training, this simply wasn't Sturridge's afternoon. He was both denied by McCarthy and saw his finishing let him down on an afternoon to forget.
Substitute: Stewart Downing (on for Henderson): 6
Couldn't help produce the longed for goal, although did come close with a strike just wide of the near post.