Pep Guardiola’s squad started their defense of their Champions League championship with a win against Red Star Belgrade. Manchester City scored two second-half goals to come from behind and win the match. Julian Alvarez scored both of his team’s goals in the second half.
Osman Bukari’s goal in the final minute of the first half gave Red Star a lead that put them in position for a potentially historic victory. Red Star had previously won the European Cup in 1991.
Alvarez raced onto Erling Haaland’s return pass, rounded Red Star keeper Omri Glazer with an excellent bit of deception, and squeezed the ball home from a tight angle while still sprinting at full speed. This brought City even less than a minute after the restart.
13 minutes later, Glazer ruined an otherwise outstanding performance when he attempted to punch Alvarez’s free-kick away from danger but instead got only the faintest touch on the ball, which did not deflect it away from the far corner. This was Glazer’s single mistake in an otherwise outstanding performance.
The historic strike that sealed the deal for Rodri’s team against Inter Milan back in June was his final goal in European competition. The Spain midfielder scored City’s third goal as he progressed unchecked into the Red Star box and guided a crisp shot into the bottom corner. This goal meant that City took a successful first step towards this season’s final at Wembley, which will be held at Wembley Stadium.
The home team thoroughly deserved their victory; by the time the final whistle blew, they had gathered 77% possession of the ball and had a staggering 37 shots to Red Star’s three.
An unusually empty score for Haaland
It was a rare night of frustration for Haaland, but the superb Alvarez was able to celebrate doubling his total for the campaign, which currently stands at four.
The 23-year-old forward has scored 30 goals in 26 games played in the Champions League before to this encounter, therefore it is safe to conclude that he enjoys playing in this competition.
However, his 27th start in the Champions League will not be one that he remembers fondly in the future.
At several moments during the match, both the Norwegian and his manager were left shaking their heads in disbelief since Haaland was unable to capitalize on any of the increasing number of chances that he would have ordinarily passed up.
Haaland ascended beautifully and met the ball with power, but it came crashing back off the crossbar, which prompted a nasty response from Guardiola. The ball came crashing back off the crossbar after being headed powerfully by Haaland.
After that, shortly thereafter, Haaland had an opportunity to score with a first-time shot on the turn from Alvarez’s cut back, but he missed the goal completely.
By the time Haaland probably realized it was not going to be his night, City had already taken the lead. Once more, the Norwegian jumped to meet a cross at the far post that was only a few steps away from the goal. This time, he decided to go in a downhill direction. Glazer managed to get a hand on it and shove the ball in such a way that it ended up on the post, where it was then cleared.
Haaland had one more opportunity, and this time it was a header, but he was unable to keep the ball on goal.
Red Star aspirations were shattered.
In this region of the world, the surname Glazer is not particularly common.
At Old Trafford, the goalie for Red Star Belgrade caused City supporters the same kind of annoyance that the Manchester United owners are known to cause. This annoyance lasted for 45 minutes.
During the first period, which was dominated by the opposition, the Israel international made saves for Rodri, Nathan Ake, and Phil Foden.
Foden, in particular, should have done better because he was unmarked on the perimeter of the six-yard area while he was in a position that was rather central.
These opportunities were a part of a larger onslaught of 22 shots before halftime that did not result in any reward. This is the most shots City has ever taken in the first half of a Champions League game without scoring a goal.
When Bukari sprinted onto Mirko Ivanic’s through ball and converted, it sparked chaos on the Red Star bench after a long wait for the video assistant referee to overturn the initial offside decision. This caused the supporters of City to be incredulous.
At that point, Jeremy Doku had taken over for Bernardo Silva, who did not appear pleased to be leaving the action so soon.
At the time that the halftime whistle came, Red Star and Glazer were hoping for a memorable victory, which is something that the Serbian team has not accomplished in England since 1973.
The dream didn’t stick around for very long.