Julian Alvarez saved Manchester City’s face after Red Star Belgrade took an unexpected lead at the Etihad. The defending champions won 3-1 on Tuesday to start their Champions League defense.
The guests’ goal had been shot at a lot before Osman Bukari scored in the last minute of the first half to surprise Pep Guardiola’s team.
But Alvarez kept up his great start to the season by tying the game just two minutes after the break.
Omri Glazer, the goalie for Red Star, flapped at Alvarez’s free kick, which helped the Argentine get the ball into the far corner.
Rodri scored the last goal with a calm finish with 17 minutes left.
After City won the treble last season and started the new Premier League season with five wins out of five, most people thought Red Star would be easy pickings.
But the English winners made things hard for themselves by not finishing well, and Glazer saved the day for the Serbian giants before halftime.
Rodri and Alvarez hurt Glazer’s hands before Erling Haaland hit the wall with a header from right in front of the goal.
Then Phil Foden struck a chance that was even easier to make with his head right at the Israeli goalie.
Due to injuries, City could only use eight of the 12 replacements they were allowed, and two of those were goalkeepers.
Jeremy Doku relieved Bernardo Silva right before halftime, which could be another injury problem for Guardiola.
In the first 45 minutes, Red Star barely left their own half, so City was shocked when Bukari came from behind and finished easily past Ederson.
The offside flag stopped the Ghanaian for a while from being happy.
But a VAR check showed that Ruben Dias had put him in the right place.
After the break, City got right back to work to make sure that was the only surprise of the night.
Haaland may not have been very good in front of goal, but the Norwegian’s smart move let Alvarez score the equalizer by going around Glazer.
The goalie for Red Star was doing a good job, but it didn’t matter because his bad punch just helped Alvarez’s free kick go into the top corner.
Rodri was the hero for City when they finally won their first European title by beating Inter Milan 1-0 in Istanbul in June. The Spaniard is getting into the good habit of scoring important goals, which is a good thing.
The player had a lot of space on the edge of the area, and he took advantage of it by spinning a shot into the far corner. This gave his team all three points.