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Champions League 2018: Liverpool Stunned by Revived Red Star

Category: Other Sports,Sports

Red Star Belgrade produced one of the biggest upsets of this season’s Champions League by beating Liverpool, 2-0, on Tuesday, reviving memories of its time as one of Europe’s top soccer teams.

Milan Pavkov scored in the 22nd and 29th minutes — his second goal a rising strike from outside the penalty area — to bring Red Star back into contention to advance to the knockout stage in its first appearance in a Champions League group stage. Red Star last played in the European Cup in 1991, as the defending champion, when beating the likes of Liverpool would not have been regarded as such a surprise.

Back then, eastern European teams were genuine contenders for club football’s biggest prize — Steaua Bucharest of Romania was the European champion in 1986, five years before Red Star brought it home to what was then Yugoslavia — and Red Star had some of the world’s best players, like Robert Prosinecki and Dejan Savicevic.

Nearly three decades later, Red Star does not have a household name in its squad and needed to qualify for the group stage through the playoffs. It was also thrashed by Liverpool, 4-0, at Anfield in the previous round, when the gulf between the sides was huge.

Liverpool, a finalist last season, arrived in Belgrade in first place in the group but left facing the prospect of being overtaken by either Napoli or Paris Saint-Germain, who met in Naples later Tuesday. Liverpool has lost both of its away games in the group stage, having been beaten, 1-0, at Napoli last month, and its fearsome attacking unit again lacked a cutting edge in Belgrade.

Instead, it was Pavkov, a 24-year-old Serbian, who impressed in front of goal, leaping highest on a corner to head in a right-wing delivery from Marko Marin and put Red Star ahead. He then showed another side of his game, shrugging off Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum to get the ball onto his right foot and smash a fierce shot past Alisson.

Red Star moved onto four points, two behind Liverpool, and its home form means it still has a chance of a top-two finish in the group.

“We need to win our games,” Liverpool midfielder James Milner said. “It’s on our shoulders.”

BRUGGE 4, MONACO 0 Monaco’s humiliating defeat at home all but ended the club’s Champions League campaign, as Thierry Henry once again failed to secure first win as the team’s coach.

Hans Vanaken scored twice for Brugge, which registered its first win in four matches. The Brazilian forward Wesley made it 3-0 and the captain Ruud Vormer completed the rout. Winless in its last 15 matches in all competitions, Monaco, a semifinalist in 2017, was on track to be eliminated if Atlético Madrid beat Borussia Dortmund in Group A’s other match on Tuesday.

Henry was hired last month as a replacement for Leonardo Jardim but has yet to secure a win in five matches, extending a run of poor form that has his team stuck in the relegation zone in the French league. The former World Cup winner is in his first managerial job after working as an assistant to Belgium’s coach, Roberto Martinez.


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