Liverpool midfielder Marko Grujic was in the thick of the action as Serbia drew 2-2 with Macedonia at the European U21 Championship.
The young Serbs took on their Eastern European neighbours at the Bydgoszcz Stadium in Poland on Tuesday evening, looking to improve on a 2-0 loss to Portugal last time out.
Grujic made his second start in as many games at the tournament, joining Valencia’s Nemanja Maksimovic in the middle of the park.
After missing two opportunities and picking up a yellow card for a dodgy challenge in his previous outing, Grujic produced a similar performance against Blagoja Milevski’s side.
Serbia dominated much of the first half, as they did against Portugal, and Grujic was central to their fine work in front of goal.
The 20-year-old could have put his side 1-0 up on 11 minutes with a headed effort on goal, but he couldn’t find the target with a weak attempt.
Grujic then picked up his second yellow of the tournament for a late foul on Boban Nikolov, ensuring he will sit out of Serbia’s final game of Group B.
Mijat Gacinovic put Serbia ahead shortly after, tucking home a loose ball in the penalty area, with Grujic still down rightly appealing for a penalty after being clipped on the edge of the box.
The Reds youngster had a great opportunity to put his side two goals ahead just after the half-hour, but found the ball smothered at his feet.
Grujic was withdrawn on 52 minutes, before goals from Enis Bardhi and Nikola Gjorgjev put Macedonia 2-1 up, but a late header from Uros Djurdjevic ensured Serbia still have it all to play for against Spain on Friday.
They will be forced to do so without Grujic, however, with the lofty midfielder suspended, highlighting a clear deficiency in his game.
He produced a number of dodgy fouls throughout his 52-minute display in Bydgoszcz, with Nenad Lalatovic likely prompting the substitution in fear of him picking up a red card.
While a powerful, dynamic box-to-box option with an impressive attacking bent, Grujic is clearly lacking in the defensive sector at this stage, as his back-to-back bookings prove.
He was criticised by Crystal Palace centre-back James Tomkins for a similarly ill-judged tackle in April.
“I’m not one to complain about the physical aspects of the game and I accept opposing players are going to be competitive but I thought the tackle was disgusting really,” the Englishman said.
“I managed to get away with it because it could have been a lot worse.”