The Roar
The Roar


Red-hot star Alvarez fires Man City past Belgrade, Newcastle's lucky escape, Lazio keeper heads in Champions League stunner

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20th September, 2023

Manchester City have started their Champions League defence with a 3-1 comeback victory over Red Star Belgrade, while fellow title hopefuls Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain also recorded Matchday One wins.

Treble winners City were stunned when the Serbian champions claimed a shock lead against the run of play through Osman Bukari just before halftime in Tuesday night’s clash at Etihad Stadium.

Argentine striker Julian Alvarez levelled quickly after the break and was then responsible for the hosts taking the lead as his free kick was punched into goal by the otherwise excellent Red Star goalkeeper Omri Glazer.

“He has everything,” City boss Pep Guardiola said of Alvarez. “Fighting, goals and assists. He is an incredibly lovely guy. Playing behind Erling (Haaland) he is an incredible threat.”

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.

Red Star boast plenty of European pedigree as winners of the competition in 1991 but, facing the continent’s present pre-eminent force, were completely outplayed.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: Julian Alvarez of Manchester City celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the UEFA Champions League match between Manchester City and FK Crvena zvezda at Etihad Stadium on September 19, 2023 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images)

Julian Alvarez of celebrates. (Photo by Alex Livesey – Danehouse/Getty Images)

Guardiola’s side are expected to go deep into the competition again this season after reaching two finals in the last three seasons.


They are aiming to become only the second club to successfully retain the trophy in the Champions League era. Real Madrid are the only team to win back-to-back titles having completed a three-peat from 2016-18.

“At the end, going in at halftime 1-0, after what we’ve done that’s nice – after winning the treble we need to be the type of champions who prove to ourselves that we are able to make a comeback,” Guardiola added.

“In this situation it’s nice to prove it … We have things to improve in general but that’s really, really good.”

In the two early kick-offs, Germany’s RB Leipzig won the other Group G game with the same 3-1 scoreline at Young Boys Bern.

And Newcastle United returned to the competition after two decades with a fortunate 0-0 draw at a wasteful AC Milan.


Milan had 25 attempts and eight on target but failed to get past goalkeeper Nick Pope, and the Magpies almost stole an added-time winner with their first shot on target from Sean Longstaff.

Elsewhere, Joao Felix struck twice and set up another as Barcelona thrashed Belgian champions Royal Antwerp 5-0. 

Felix, who joined Barca from Atletico Madrid, opened the scoring in the 11th minute and set up Robert Lewandowski’s goal in the 19th. The home side’s third was an own-goal in the 22nd.

Gavi scored Barcelona’s fourth in the 54th, and Felix added his second with a header in the 66th.

Porto won the other Group H game 3-1 at Shakhtar Donetsk, who are playing their home games in Hamburg, Germany this season, with the help of a brace from Galeno.

In Paris, Kylian Mbappe continued his scoring spree and right back Achraf Hakimi also found the net as PSG opened their campaign with a 2-0 home win against Borussia Dortmund.


Mbappe’s penalty put the hosts, who have never won the competition, ahead in the 49th minute following a video review with his eighth goal in five games this season.

And in Group E, Lazio goalkeeper Ivan Provedel ran up the field to head in an extraordinary equaliser on the final play of the match for a 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid in Rome, while Feyenoord beat nine-man Celtic 2-0 in Rotterdam.

Lazio keeper scores late header in Atletico draw

Lazio goalkeeper Ivan Provedel has come forward and headed in an added-time equaliser to earn the Italian club a 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.

On the final play of the Group E match at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on Tuesday, Provedel — making his Champions League debut — showed off his unlikely attacking skills by meeting a cross from Luis Alberto with a glancing header.

It was a measure of revenge for Provedel, who was left fuming after Pablo Barrios scored for the Spanish visitors in the first half with a shot that took a big deflection off Lazio midfielder Daichi Kamada.

“I’m going to enjoy this. But we only got one point; we didn’t win,” Provedel said, adding that he modelled his attacking style after Lazio striker Ciro Immobile.


Before kick-off, Lazio fans welcomed back Atletico coach Diego Simeone, who helped them win the 2000 Serie A title as a player and also three other trophies with the Roman club.

“Rome and Lazio will always be your home. Welcome back, Cholo, our champion of Italy,” read a banner in Italian held aloft by Lazio’s hard-core “ultra” supporters.

While this is Atletico’s 11th straight group appearance in the Champions League, Lazio are playing in the competition for only the second time in 16 seasons.

Lazio produced many more chances, with Mattia Zaccagni and Luis Alberto both going close on various occasions.

Also, Immobile failed to take advantage of an errant pass from Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak in the second half.

Oblak then lunged to push wide a long shot from Danilo Cataldi in added time before Provedel’s goal.


Lazio lost left back Luca Pellegrini to an injury during the first half.