By Matt Ramirez – @Matt_J_Ramirez
Liverpool remain top of Group C in the UEFA Champions League for at least a couple hours after they failed to overcome a hostile Serbian atmosphere, falling to a 2-0 defeat to Red Star Belgrade.
Goals from Milan Pavkov secured all three points for the Serbians, leaving Jurgen Klopp’s side travelling back to Merseyside empty handed and with a job to do to finish top of the group.
Much like in the reverse fixture, Red Star started the match well. The Serbian side showed clear attacking intent early on, registering the first shot on target of the game, pressing the Merseyside club high up the pitch and taking the lead in the 21st minute.
A Marko Marin corner found the head of Pavkov who climbed above Virgil van Dijk and powered the ball past Alisson. The Striker couldn’t have picked a better spot had he grabbed the ball and placed it in the net, with the ball nestling into the bottom corner of the Red net.
If the Red Star fans were happy at 1-0 then they were in dreamland not even 10 minutes later after Pavkov released a laser guided shot from distance to put the Serbian side 2-0 up. The striker picked up the ball from deep before out-muscling Gini Wijnaldum and leathering it past a flailing Alisson who could only watch the ball nestle into the top right corner of his net.
Liverpool spent the rest of the first half trying to find a response to the Serbian onslaught but to no avail. Although having the lion-share of possession, Klopps men never caused any danger and the Red Star goalkeeper remained untested.
With 45 minutes left to rescue a point, Klopp looked to bring on Joe Gomez and Roberto Firmino to aid his lacklustre side. Less than 10 minutes into the restart and the Reds were almost back in it, having a shot saved on the line from Sadio Mané and hitting the crossbar after an Andrew Robertson cross was deflected.
Much like the first half, Liverpool again had the majority of possession but lacked substance in attack. The Red’s struggled to carve out chances in the final third, and on the few occasions when they got through the Serbian defence, they lacked the composure to cause any damage.
Although Liverpool didn’t do themselves any favours, playing well below par, it must be said that the home side performed admirably and deserved the victory – defending well and putting in a very solid and professional performance to secure the victory.
Having missed out on what could have been a vital three points, Liverpool now see themselves firmly on the race to even qualify from Group C.
With two games left to play, Klopp’s men will travel to the French capital on November 28th to take on PSG in their next group game in the UEFA Champions League.