Manchester City Triumph Over Red Star Belgrade
Manchester City, the reigning champions, bounced back from conceding an early goal to beat Red Star Belgrade 3-1 in their Group G opener at The Etihad on Tuesday, with Julian Alvarez scoring twice in a dominant performance.
Pep Guardiola's team controlled the game in the first half but struggled to convert their chances. They fell behind just before halftime as Osman Bukari capitalized on a counter-attack to score for Red Star.
However, City quickly regained control after the break, with Julian Alvarez equalizing in the 47th minute, thanks to an assist from Erling Haaland. Alvarez then benefited from a misjudgment by Red Star's goalkeeper, Omri Glazer, as his cross found the net in the 60th minute. Rodri sealed the victory for City with a clinical finish in the 73rd minute.
This win extended Manchester City's remarkable home record in the Champions League, making it 26 consecutive unbeaten matches. It was a comfortable start to their title defense, although they struggled to convert their chances in the first half.
Erling Haaland, the Norwegian goal-scoring sensation, had a frustrating night, failing to find the net despite several opportunities. City had 22 attempts on goal in the first half, but Haaland headed wide, hit the crossbar with an easier chance, and lashed a shot over the bar.
Red Star's goalkeeper, Omri Glazer, put on a stellar performance in the first half, making crucial saves to deny Phil Foden, Nathan Ake, and Rodri.
However, Red Star stunned City just before halftime when Osman Bukari broke through and calmly finished past Ederson. Initially ruled offside, the goal was allowed to stand after a VAR review, leaving City trailing at the break.
Guardiola rallied his team at halftime, urging them to stay calm and maintain their attacking efforts. City responded promptly, with Alvarez's goal in the 47th minute reigniting their confidence.
Red Star's Glazer had a moment to forget as he failed to deal with an Alvarez cross, allowing the ball to slip into the net. Kyle Walker had a goal disallowed for offside, and Rodri sealed the win with a precise right-footed shot from outside the penalty area.
Guardiola reflected on the game, saying, "We played really, really well, but we were not able to score goals. We were consistent, and in the end, we won the game."
While Haaland struggled to find the net, City showcased their depth and determination, ensuring a successful start to their Champions League campaign.