Liverpool’s chances of repeating 2017/18’s run to the Champions League final took a blow on Tuesday night when centre forward Milan Pavkov produced a first-half brace to earn Red Star Belgrade a surprise 2-0 victory.
The 24-year-old headed in unopposed from a corner in the 22nd minute and lashed home a memorable second from distance just before the half-hour mark. The visitors to a heated Stadion Rajko Mitic failed to fire and only truly went close from Egypt superstar Mohamed Salah’s smartly worked, second-half pot shot that caressed the post.
Liverpool still topped Group C on six points, ahead of Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli’s meeting later on in the evening. But the dropped points in Belgrade could hurt them further down the track.
Alisson – 5: Not culpable for either goal, but his distribution let him down on a night when his team-mates needed a kick-start.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 4: Another woeful display from the teenager to follow-up the weekend’s shocker at Arsenal. Rightly hooked at half-time.
Joel Matip – 5: Missing in action for the opener, no pressure on the advancing Pavkov for his second and also wasted a few headed opportunities in the opposition’s penalty box.
Virgil van Dijk – 6: Headed onto the roof of the goal late on, for one of Liverpool’s best chances.
Andrew Robertson – 5: Was not his usual effervescent self. Accuracy on crosses let him down – none of his five attempts found a team-mate in purple.
James Milner – 5: Tried to get Liverpool started, but his passing could not prevent a midfield quagmire.
Georginio Wijnaldum – 5: Left chasing Pavkov’s shadow for the second and his dull display helped kill all momentum as Red Star sat deep.
Adam Lallana – 4: A third start of the season – and just fifth appearance overall – went predictably badly for a player badly off the pace. Should have done better with a diving header.
Mohamed Salah – 6: A lone beacon of attacking quality for the Reds. Artfully teed himself up with a bouncing ball to hit the woodwork and caused chaos soon after with a low shot. Should have done better deep into second-half injury time, but could only shoot low at the goalkeeper. He’s now blanked for the last two games, after scoring in the preceding three.
Daniel Sturridge – 4: With Roberto Firmino on a dry spell, this was Sturridge’s big chance to impress. It did not go well. He ballooned over a presentable shot from close range and did not come out for the second half.
Sadio Mane – 3: The Senegal winger was at his erratic worst. Mishit when the goal was at his mercy in the second half. Abject performance reached its nadir when he dribbled out of play under zero pressure.
3 - Liverpool have lost three consecutive Champions League away games for the first time in their history. Sluggish. pic.twitter.com/LYMZXGZlbf— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 6, 2018
Roberto Firmino – 5: Had zero attempts on goal when given the whole second half. Has netted once for club and country in his 11 run-outs.
Joe Gomez – 5: Lack of flair in possession ensured Liverpool’s right wing was not productive.
Divock Origi – N/A: A first Liverpool appearance since August 2017 produced no positive memories.
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