Manchester City’s Champions League defense got underway with a comfortable 3-1 win over Red Star Belgrade, led by a brilliant performance by Julian Alvarez.
The triple winners were taken aback on Tuesday at the Etihad Stadium when the Serbian champions took a surprising lead against the run of play thanks to Osman Bukari right before halftime.
Right after halftime, Alvarez scored to tie the game, and he also set up City’s go-ahead goal when Red Star goalie Omri Glazer knocked his free kιck into the net.
Then, 17 minutes from time, Rodri, who scored the game-winning goal in last year’s final against Inter Milan, finished off a well-deserved victory with a composed finish of his own.
City dominated the game before taking the lead, with Glazer making many impressive stops to keep the score even and Erling Haaland hitting the post.
The home team started to capitalize on their opportunities in the second half, but they missed numerous more opportunities to score goals (Kyle Walker had a shot disallowed, Haaland Һit the post twice, and Alvarez Һit the side netting).
Although Red Star have plenty of European pedigree as tournament winners in 1991, they were totally outplayed by the continent’s current preeminent force.
City’s first real chance didn’t come until nine minutes in, when Phil Foden saw his shot deflected over, and then Rodri jinked into the area before testing Glazer.
The half went off to a lively start for the Israeli goalie, who turned away two shots from Alvarez and a header from Foden.
Haaland met a floated Foden cross with a strong header, but the bar saved him from City’s greatest chance of the first period.
Haaland squandered a golden opportunity to put City ahead when he fumbled the ball in the penalty area.
Red Star, who had been content to play on the counter when it presented itself, took a stunning lead right before halftime, making City regret their missed opportunities.
As a result of playing a high line, the hosts conceded when Bukari was sent through on goal by Mirko Ivanic and calmly tapped past Ederson.
At first, it appeared that an offside flag would save City, but after a VAR review, the goal was given to City.
City, who replaced Bernardo Silva with Jeremy Doku in stoppage time, responded positively to the halftime break and tied the game just two minutes later.
After being sent in by Haaland, Alvarez finished brilliantly by dinking the ball over Glazer.
Later, Walker thought he had given City the lead, but he was called offside.
Alvarez’s left-wing free kιck into the box gave City the lead shortly before the hour mark. Even though Glazer came out swinging, he didn’t connect cleanly, and the ball sailed in off the back of his hand.
Haaland nearly scored again when his header Һit the post, and Alvarez’s shot narrowly missed the target.
City’s 3rd goal, scored by Rodri, made the score look more plausible.
After Foden did well to create space outside the box, the Spaniard dribbled inside and sent a pass to the far bottom corner.