For many fans, watching Liverpool struggle against a side that on paper they were better than on Tuesday night was disappointing if not entirely surprising given that so far this season the team have largely failed to match the standards set during 2017-18.
The difference this time was a negative result to go with the disappointing performance, and on that front, credit needs to be given to the Red Star players, as the group minnows channeled the passion of their supporters to discomfort and in the end best Liverpool.
“We played well and managed to shut them out,” Milos Degenek said, with the Australian centre half acknowledging his side had raised their game. “Pavkov scored two beautiful goals, but all the boys played really well. Now if only we could play like this every week.”
Red Star raised their game. Liverpool didn’t, perhaps lulled into thinking their ability to mostly get the right results without playing to their potential this season would continue against a side that, up until last night, hadn’t won a game at this level since 1992.
For Liverpool, it’s a shock result—but perhaps one that will push them to be better. For Red Star, it’s a famous European victory, and while the Champions League knockouts are likely out of reach, if they can win their remaining home game the Europa League will beckon.
“I think Liverpool underestimated us and consequently paid for that mistake,” Degenek added. “[James] Milner told me he’d never experienced anything like the noise coming from above the tunnel. I believe we can repeat this against Napoli.”