Red-hot star Alvarez fires Man City past Belgrade as Newcastle enjoy lucky escape in Champions League return


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.

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.

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

Pep 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.

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.

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