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Red Star Belgrade 2, Liverpool 0: First Thoughts

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Liverpool’s chances of advancing out of this group took a drastic hit tonight in Belgrade.

Crvena Zvezda v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Group C Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

Red Star 2 - 0 Liverpool

Red Star 2: Pavkov 22’, 29’
Liverpool 0

  • Pre-match Thought: Liverpool can put real pressure on both PSG and Napoli with a win here in the early match. A win keeps the Reds top, and in great position to advance, maybe even as early as the next matchday. There are a few surprises in the line-up: Joel Matip comes on for Joe Gomez, Adam Lallana comes on for Fabinho (presumably shifting Georginio Wijnaldum to the 6), and Daniel Sturridge comes on for a (frankly struggling) Roberto Firmino. Still, it should be more than enough firepower to get the job done.
  • I’m pretty sure this match is being shot by a camera currently in low Earth orbit.
  • The hosts create the first nervy moment of the match after a quarter of an hour after the purple-clad Reds fail to clear a corner. Thankfully the shot goes high and wide of the target.
  • Ooof. Sturridge will want that one back. A bouncing cross falls to him at the back post, but his shot on the open net goes just over the crossbar. It’s not all bad news though, Liverpool are getting a lot of joy down the flanks. Sadio Mane, in particular, appears to be no match for his defensive markers.
  • Goal. And like that, Liverpool are in trouble. Red Star went close on their last corner, and make Liverpool pay this time around.
  • Goal. Deep trouble. Red Star’s striker Pavkov goes at it alone, beating Alisson from about 25 yards. Not much you can do about that. Other than, you know, not letting their striker run at goal unchallenged.
  • Lallana goes into the book for a pretty nasty challenge around midfield. This half is going great.
  • Halftime Thought: Liverpool just don’t look at the races today. We’re mostly slow and methodical in possession, and not nearly aggressive enough in defense. Klopp needs to make changes at the half if he has any hopes of getting anything out of this match.
  • Changes at the half. Thank fuck. Firmino and Joe Gomez on for Sturridge and Trent Alexander-Arnold, respectively.
  • Aaaand Red Star start the half by going for the throat, and Milner looks like he gets away with a handball in the box.
  • Bobby runs into the box and picks out Mane right in front of goal. Mane trips over the ball. One of those nights, eh?
  • An hour gone and things are not going better for Liverpool. They’re showing very little urgency in attack, but at least they haven’t conceded again. So there’s that.
  • 70 minutes in and Liverpool finally have a shot on target. Sure, it’s from outside the box, and deflected, but it forces a save! A moment later Salah hits the post. You’re getting there, guys!
  • Lallana (finally) comes off for...Divock Origi? Ugh. I can’t even tonight.

Final Whistle Thought: Congratulations Napoli away, you’ve been replaced as the worst performance this season. This is not the swashbuckling, free scoring side from last season. Really poor performances all over the pitch, and we deserved to go home empty-handed.

We’ll be back shortly to take an in-depth look at everything that happened in today’s game with the full recap. Until then, let us know your take on the ups and downs of the match in the comments, and if you haven’t already, join the community on the Liverpool Offside, where we’ll have full coverage and lively in-game discussion for every match this season.