Red Star Belgrade struck twice late on as they came from behind to defeat 10-man Olympiacos 3-1 in the Champions League.
Ruben Semedo’s first-half goal had put the visitors in charge of the contest, however Yassine Benzia’s controversial dismissal in the 57th minute proved a turning point.
Within five minutes the Serbian side were level courtesy of substitute Milos Vulic’s curling low strike.
And Red Star completed their turnaround with two quickfire goals – Nemanja Milunovic and Richmond Boakye heading home Marko Marin corners – as they moved second in Group B behind Bayern Munich.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) October 1, 2019
The visitors looked the bigger threat throughout the first half, with Miguel Angel Guerrero whipping a curling a shot narrowly wide in the 23rd minute.
A minute later the Olympiacos forward had an even more presentable opportunity after fine work down the left from Konstantinos Tsimikas, only for the Spaniard to head just wide.
Eventually, Pedro Martins’ side made their dominance count – but they had a helping hand from Red Star goalkeeper Borjan.
Giorgos Masouras’ set-piece to the far post found Semedo and the Portuguese defender squeezed home on the volley from the tightest of angles beyond the wrong-footed Borjan, who should have done much better.
Their night got harder, though, when Benzia was dismissed somewhat harshly for a second yellow card after a challenge on Jose Canas. And within five minutes the home side were level courtesy of substitute Vulic.
Tomane’s shot was only half cleared by Yassine Meriah and Vulic took full advantage, firing a low shot between the defender’s legs and into the far corner.
Meriah almost snatched an unlikely victory for the 10 men and Olympiacos were left to rue that missed opportunity when Milunovic and Boakye headed home two superb Marin corners late on.
What does it mean? Resolute Red Star boost qualification hopes
This was a stirring comeback from Red Star, who once again demonstrated how difficult a foe they can be, particularly at home.
Now two points clear of both Olympiacos and Tottenham, this victory will build belief they can challenge for the second qualification spot behind a rampant Bayern Munich side, for whom qualification already looks a formality.
Red card a turning point
There is no escaping it – referee Benoit Bastien’s decision to send off Benzia was the key moment in this match. What looked a fairly innocuous tangle of legs with Canas was rather harshly punished – and Olympiacos paid a heavy price.
Set-pieces from ‘German Messi’ key
He may not have got on the scoresheet, but do not underestimate the influence here of Marin, once dubbed the ‘German Messi.’ Two superb corner deliveries late on helped ensure Red Star ended the game with three points rather than one.
Key Opta Facts
– Red Star have lost only once in their last 14 home matches in all European competition (W7 D6).
– Olympiaxos are winless in their last 10 Champions League games (D2 L8) – their longest such run in the competition.
– Vulic became the first substitute to score a Champions League goal for Red Star, while Boakye later became the second to do so.
– Benzia became the eighth different player to be shown a red card for Olympiacos in the Champions League and first since both Olof Mellberg and Matt Derbyshire were sent off against Bordeaux in March 2010.
– Olympiacos’ Semedo scored his first ever Champions League goal in what was his eight appearance in the competition.
Olympiacos host Bayern Munich on October 22, while Red Star travel to Tottenham for the first of back-to-back matches which could have a big say on qualification.
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