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Red Star 2-0 Liverpool: Lifeless Reds fall to shock defeat in Champions League

Liverpool produced one of the worst performances of Jurgen Klopp‘s reign as they fell to a 2-0 defeat away to Red Star in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Red Star 2-0 Liverpool

Champions League Group Stage (4), Rajko Mitic Stadium
November 6, 2018


Pavkov 22′ (assist – Marin)
Pavkov 29′ (assist – Marin)

Forty-five years on from their last away clash with Red Star, Liverpool returned to Belgrade on Tuesday evening for their fourth game in Group C.

After a 4-0 thrashing of the Serbian outfit at Anfield last time out, Jurgen Klopp‘s side headed to the Rajko Mitic Stadium top of the table, with Napoli entertaining Paris Saint-Germain later in the night.

Klopp made three changes to his side from Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Arsenal, with Joel Matip, Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge coming in for Joe Gomez, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino.

That stalemate at the Emirates ended a three-game winning streak, and it got even worse for Liverpool on Tuesday.

BELGRADE, SERBIA - Tuesday, November 6, 2018: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker looks dejected as FK Crvena zvezda score the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League Group C match between FK Crvena zvezda (Red Star Belgrade) and Liverpool FC at Stadion Rajko Miti?. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

  • Klopp makes three changes as Sturridge leads the line
  • Reds go 1-0 down through Pavkov after Sturridge’s shocking miss
  • Pavkov doubles lead with long-range strike to stun spineless midfield
  • Origi makes first appearance for Liverpool since first game of 2017/18

Met with a ferocious atmosphere at the Marakana, the Reds were put under pressure by an energetic home side early on, with Red Star’s belief restored.

Liverpool were handed a near-guaranteed opportunity at an opener on 17 minutes, however, as Sadio Mane galloped down the left, but Sturridge somehow scooped his strike over the bar from eight yards out.

Sturridge’s error was punished just five minutes later as, after a great save from Alisson denied Ben Nabouhane, hulking striker Milan Pavkov headed home Marko Marin’s corner for 1-0.

Pavkov doubled his tally, and Red Star’s lead, soon after, picking up the ball from deep and firing a stunning long-range strike into the back of the net.

Heading into half-time at 2-0 up, this was a well-deserved scoreline for the hosts, and similarly for Liverpool who produced a spineless showing in the opening 45.

BELGRADE, SERBIA - Tuesday, November 6, 2018: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah sees his shot hit the post during the UEFA Champions League Group C match between FK Crvena zvezda (Red Star Belgrade) and Liverpool FC at Stadion Rajko Miti?. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp wasted no time with switching up his side after the break, sending on both Gomez and Firmino, who took over from Trent Alexander-Arnold and the disappointing Sturridge.

Liverpool also adopted a change of shape, reverting to a 4-2-3-1 with Firmino on the left, Mane on the right, Lallana in the No. 10 role and Mohamed Salah up front, and clearly improved.

But with Red Star sitting deep and holding firm, they really had to work for their chances, with Salah hitting the post with a hopeful volley from range.

The manager’s desperation grew as the 80-minute mark approached, with Klopp opting to send Divock Origi on for his first appearance for the Reds since August 2017.

Unfortunately he was forced to feed off less than scraps, as Liverpool limped to an abysmal defeat at the Marakana.

TIA Man of the Match: Divock Origi

Referee: Antonio Mateu Lahoz (ESP)

Red Star: Borjan; Stojkovic (Gobeljic 59′), Savic, Degenek, Rodic; Krsticic (Jovicic 73′), Jovancic; Srnic, Marin (Causic 64′), Ben; Pavkov

Subs not used: Popovic, Babic, Stoiljkovic, Simic

Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold (Gomez 46′), Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Milner, Lallana (Origi 79′); Mane, Salah, Sturridge (Firmino 46′)

Subs not used: Mignolet, Moreno, Fabinho, Keita

Next Match: Fulham (H) – Premier League – Sunday, November 11, 12pm (GMT)

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