Manchester City began the defence of their Champions League crown with a 3-1 home win against Red Star Belgrade on Tuesday night.
The Blues trailed at the break, despite being in charge for the entirety of the opening 45 minutes. But Julian Alvarez equalised after half-time, before opposition goalkeeper Omri Glazer scored an own-goal, and then Rodri grabbed a third in the 73rd minute.
City dominated the game from the early stages, with Matheus Nunes and Phil Foden having tentative early efforts, before Rodri and Alvarez forced Glazer into saves inside the opening 20 minutes.
The usually reliable Erling Haaland also failed to convert two headers in the box, the first of which he misjudged the flight of and failed to control, while the striker crashed an effort off the crossbar in the 25th minute, after connecting with Foden’s cross. Nathan Ake and Nunes then tested Glazer with headers from back-to-back Alvarez corners, as the City onslaught continued.
But Red Star, led by Glazer, were offering stiff opposition, and the Israeli stopper denied Silva’s curled effort, before Haaland again fired off target, this time from inside the box after Foden cut the ball back. Alvarez then tested Glazer once again, while Foden saw his header saved on 41 minutes.
City managed 22 shots in the first half compared to Red Star’s one, yet incredibly it was the visitors who went in ahead at the break. Osman Bukari sprinted in behind the City backline just minutes before the half-time whistle and latched onto Mirko Ivanic’s pass, before slotting the ball past Ederson. The goal was initially flagged offside, but a VAR check showed Ruben Dias had played the striker on, and the goal was correctly awarded.
Yet within 82 seconds of the second half beginning, City were level. Alvarez began the move when he played the ball into Haaland at the edge of the area, with the latter continuing his run. Haaland then played an excellent reverse ball back into the Argentinian’s path, and Alvarez coolly rounded the goalkeeper and passed it into the empty goal.
By the 53rd minute, City thought they’d taken the lead when Kyle Walker tapped into the net after the ball cannoned off Aleksandr Dragovic and fell into his path from a few yards out. Yet the assistant referee’s flag denied the right-back a rare goal. The hosts also looked set to add a second when Glazer pushed Alvarez shot back into the centre of the box, but the keeper’s quick reactions stopped Haaland from turning the ball home.
Glazer had enjoyed a superb night so far, but after 60 minutes it was his mistimed punch that handed City the lead. Alvarez arced a wicked ball towards the back post, and Red Star’s no.18 didn’t connect properly with his punch, as the ball flicked into the back of the net in a rather tame fashion.
City kept pushing for a third, with Rodri going close from the edge of the box, while Walker’s cross to Haaland was superbly saved by Glazer, who also denied Jeremy Doku with his feet in the 69th minute.
But Rodri put the game beyond any doubt when he exchanged a pass with Foden at the edge of the box and delicately curled the ball into the far corner to give City a third on the night. In the latter stages, Foden saw a shot saved, Doku had an effort blocked in the box, while Oscar Bobb’s shot nearly embarrassed Glazer when his attempt squirmed through the 27-year-old’s hands and went behind for a corner.
But it was a quiet end to a game City thoroughly deserved to win. Here's how we rated Pep Guardiola's players...