Julian Alvarez equalised for City (Martin Rickett/PA)
Julian Alvarez shone as Manchester City came from behind to begin their Champions League defence with a comfortable 3-1 win over Red Star Belgrade.
The treble winners were stunned when the Serbian champions claimed a shock lead against the run of play through Osman Bukari just before half-time in Tuesday’s Group G clash at the Etihad Stadium.
Alvarez levelled quickly after the break and was then responsible for City taking the lead as his free-kick was punched into goal by the otherwise excellent Red Star goalkeeper Omri Glazer.
Rodri, matchwinner against Inter Milan in last season’s final, then wrapped up a thoroughly deserved victory with a typically composed finish 17 minutes from time.
Prior to taking the lead, City had completely dominated the game, with Glazer producing a series of fine saves to thwart the hosts and Erling Haaland hitting the crossbar.
The hosts finally started to take their chances in the second period but could have scored plenty more with Kyle Walker having an effort disallowed, Haaland again hitting the woodwork and Alvarez finding the side-netting.
Red Star boast plenty of European pedigree as winners of the competition in 1991 but, facing the continent’s present pre-eminent force, they were completely outplayed.
City had their first chance after nine minutes when Phil Foden had an effort deflected over and Rodri then jinked into the area before testing Glazer.
It was the start of a busy half for the Israeli keeper, who also denied Alvarez twice and kept out a point-blank header from Foden.
Julian Alvarez (right) scores City’s first goal of the game (Martin Rickett/PA)
He could do little about City’s best chance of the opening period asRead on belfasttelegraph.co.uk