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Manchester City defeats Red Star thanks in part to a comeback from Julian Alvarez.

Manchester City defeats Red Star thanks in part to a comeback from Julian Alvarez.

Manchester City came from behind to defeat Red Star Belgrade 3-1 to open their Champions League defense, and Julian Alvarez shone in the process.

The treble winners were taken aback when the Serbian champions unexpectedly took the lead through Osman Bukari just before halftime in Tuesday’s Group G match at the Etihad Stadium.

After the break, Alvarez quickly restored parity, and it was he who then caused City to go in front when Red Star goalkeeper Omri Glazer deflected his free kick into the net.

Rodri, who defeated Inter Milan in the final of the previous season, then completed a victory that was richly deserving with a cool-headed goal 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, the competition’s 1991 champions, has a strong European pedigree, but when they faced the continent’s current dominant force, they were thoroughly outplayed.

After nine minutes, City had their first opportunity when Rodri jinked into the area and tested Glazer after Phil Foden’s shot was deflected over.

The Israeli goalkeeper had a busy first half, stopping two shots from Alvarez and a close-range header from Foden.

He had little control over City’s best opportunity of the first half, which came from Haaland’s forceful header off the bar after meeting a floated Foden cross.

Haaland had another good chance to put City ahead but turned over from in front of goal.

City were made to rue their wasted chances as Red Star, who had looked to counter-attack when possible, grabbed a shock lead on the stroke of half-time.

The hosts were punished for playing a high line as Bukari was played through by Mirko Ivanic and slotted coolly past Ederson.

At first, it appeared that an offside flag might spare City, but a VAR review led to the goal being awarded.

City, who brought on Jeremy Doku for Bernardo Silva in the closing moments of the first half, quickly regrouped and equalised two minutes after the interval.

After being skillfully dinked over by Glazer, Alvarez finished superbly after being played in by Haaland.

Moments later, Walker believed he had given City the lead, only to be called offside.

City claimed the lead just before the hour as Alvarez curled a free-kick from the left into the box.

Glazer came out to punch but failed to make clean contact and the ball flew in after skimming the back his hand.

Haaland went close again when he headed against a post before Alvarez lashed just wide.

City finally gave the scoreline a more realistic look when Rodri claimed their third.

The Spaniard turned Vladimir Lucic outside the area after good work by Foden and strode forward to pass the ball into the far bottom corner.

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