A first half brace from Milan Pavkov condemned Liverpool to a 2-0 defeat against Crvena Zvezda in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.
Liverpool suffered a shock 2-0 loss at the hands of Serbian SuperLiga champions Crvena Zvezda at the Rajko Mitic Stadium in their fourth Group C encounter of the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League.
Having beaten the Serbian outfit quite comfortably in the reverse fixture last month, the Reds were overwhelming favourites heading into the tie. And they did start strongly, with a great chance falling their way just 15 minutes into the game, but Daniel Sturridge fired way over the bar.
That proved to be costly as the hosts pegged back Jurgen Klopp’s men with Milan Pavkov heading in a Marko Marin corner in the 22nd minute, before he doubled his tally for the night with a spectacular effort from long range seven minutes later to make it 2-0.
Chasing the game, it was all Liverpool after the break as they dominated possession and tried to find a way through the Crvena Zvezda backline. They did hit the woodwork on two occasions as well, but Vladen Milojevic’s men defended with great gusto and resolve to keep the Reds at bay and pull off a huge upset.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) November 6, 2018
The result, coupled with Napoli’s 1-1 draw against PSG later in the night, meant Liverpool slipped down to 2nd spot in Group C. And here’s how Klopp’s stars fared in their disappointing outing in Belgrade.
Alisson Becker: 5.5/10
Produced a good stop from a long range strike from El Fardou Ben in the first period, but the corner he conceded from that save led to the opener, which he had little chance of saving. Well beaten by Pavkov’s second strike as well, although the Brazilian was a bit slow to react.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 4/10
Given the nod ahead of Joe Gomez at right-back, the England international hardly looked comfortable on the night. Looked suspect defensively, while offering very little penetration moving forward down the right flank. His run of poor form continued and it wasn’t a surprise to see him being whisked off at half time.
Joel Matip: 5/10
The Cameroonian defender was handed a rare start by Klopp – his first in the Champions League this term and third across all competitions. But, he failed to make the most of this opportunity. Did not look convincing at all at the back. Stepped back instead of getting close to Pavkov, allowing him the space to shoot for the second. Should have scored with a header late in the game.
Virgil van Dijk: 5/10
A rare dull outing for the towering centre-half who has been Liverpool’s pillar of strength this season. Was at fault for the opener as he allowed Pavkov to run past him and head home. Van Dijk also made a couple of errors post that and sent a difficult header over the bar late in the game.
Andrew Robertson: 6/10
A rare bright spot for the Merseysiders on a fateful night in Belgrade. Was alert to threats and defended well for most part of the first half. Spent much of his time holed up in the opposition half after the break and saw a deflected cross bounce off of the woodwork. End product wasn’t always top notch, but did not stop working till the final whistle.
James Milner: 5/10
Captaining the side on the night, the veteran midfielder looked sloppy from the get go and was partly culpable for the second goal, as he lost possession cheaply in the middle. Never lacking for effort, Milner strived hard, especially after the break, making some positive runs forward, but the final ball was lacking for the Englishman. Looked leggy and tired.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 4.5/10
Starting in the No. 6 role where he has excelled at times this season in the absence of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho, the Netherlands international endured a night to forget in Serbia. Was easily brushed off by Pavkov leading up to Crvena Zvezda’s second goal and was overrun time and again in the middle by the visitors.
Did show signs of improvement after the break and tried to drive Liverpool forward in search of a comeback, but failed to make any meaningful contribution to the game.
Adam Lallana: 4.5/10
The England international was handed a rare start in the middle of the park, ahead of the fit-again Naby Keita, but he failed to justify his selection on the night. There were some customary silky touches here and there, but other than that, Lallana continues to look a shadow of his former self.
Looked off pace and offered very little creativity and penetration in the final third. Booked in the first half for a poor challenge on Marin. Subbed off late on.
Mohamed Salah: 5.5/10
The Egyptian was easily Liverpool’s brightest spark in attack, which isn’t saying much. Salah took 70 minutes to register his first shot on target in the game, which was easily saved by Milan Borjan. Hit the outside of the post soon after and forced a couple more saves from the Crvena Zvezda goalkeeper. Nowhere near his blistering best from last season.
Daniel Sturridge: 3/10
Given the nod to lead the line ahead of Roberto Firmino, the Englishman missed a great chance to put his team ahead, when he fired his shot high and wide from point-blank range 15 minutes into the game. Tried to do it all by himself at times, but nothing came off for him. Slack in possession, movement not sharp enough, Sturridge was rightly hooked off at the break.
Sadio Mane: 4.5/10
Mane started off brightly, setting Sturridge up for a chance and made a couple more surging runs forward on the left. But that was as good as it got for the Senegalese speedster as he struggled to impose himself on the proceedings. Shunted out on the right flank after the break, he offered little threat and was often wasteful in possession. Has seen better days.
Roberto Firmino: 5.5/10
Replaced Sturridge at half time. Started off brightly, creating a couple of promising opportunities, but faded soon after. Failed to make any serious impact.
Joe Gomez: 5.5/10
Came on for Alexander-Arnold after the restart. Offered an outlet down the right side and fired a few dangerous looking throw-ins into the box.
Divock Origi: N/A
Thrown in for Lallana with a little over ten minutes left on the clock. Making his first appearance of the season, the Belgian looked scratchy, with his touch all over the place.