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Red Star Belgrade
Champions League | Group Stage
Dec 13, 2023 at 5.45pm UK
Stadion Rajko Mitic
Manchester City logo

Red Star
2 - 3
Man City

In-beom (76'), Katai (90+1')
Spajic (45+1'), Mijailovic (65'), Djiga (84')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Hamilton (19'), Bobb (62'), Phillips (85' pen.)
Phillips (52')

Manchester City seal perfect group stage record with win over Red Star Belgrade

Man City seal perfect group stage record with win over Red Star
© Reuters
A debut goal for Micah Hamilton helps Manchester City to a 3-2 Champions League win away at Red Star Belgrade.

Micah Hamilton, Oscar Bobb and Kalvin Phillips scored their first Manchester City goals in a 3-2 win for Pep Guardiola's side away at Red Star Belgrade this evening.

With Man City already through as group winners, Guardiola rang the changes, with Hamilton and Bobb among those coming in to replace the injured Erling Haaland and the rested Julian Alvarez.

With all four sides already knowing their final positions in the group heading into the final matchday, there was nothing riding on proceedings, and some of City's youngsters took their chance in the side with both hands.

City were looking to become just the second English side to complete a perfect group stage campaign after Liverpool in 2020-21, and Hamilton's first-half opener set them on their way.

The lead was then doubled, when Bobb made it 2-0 shortly after the hour mark, with City seemingly cruising to a sixth win in six.

The hosts came back fighting though, as Red Star fired back through Hwang In-beom with 15 minutes remaining, but City restored the two goal lead via the penalty spot, when Hamilton was fouled in the area, and Phillips stepped up to convert, as the visitors were able to hold on for the three points on their first ever trip to Serbia, despite a late consolation from Aleksandar Katai.

It was just a second defeat in 29 home games for the Serbian champions, but it does mark a third consecutive bottom-placed finish for them in the Champions League group stage.

Meanwhile, City have now finished top of their section for a seventh season running, and will be seeded in Monday's last 16 draw.

With the game being a dead rubber, the opening stages went as expected, with City playing at a pedestrian pace, keeping possession well.

It was a moment of individual excellence which broke the deadlock with the first real chance of the game, as 20-year-old Hamilton marked his senior debut with a goal, firing high into the roof of the net beyond Red Star keeper Omri Glazer inside 20 minutes.

Manchester City's Micah Hamilton celebrates scoring their first goal on December 13, 2023© Reuters

In a half of few chances, Red Star had one of the best, when teenage right-back Kosta Nedeljkovic showed fine feet in the area but fired just over the crossbar.

The second half provided much more entertainment and goalmouth action, and Barak Bakhar's side went closest in the early stages.

Osman Bukari, the man who scored at the Etihad in the reverse, caused havoc on many occasions, and it was his cross that found Cherif Ndiaye, but his header was well saved instinctively by Stefan Ortega in the City goal.

Despite the minor scare, City then extended their lead on 62 minutes, when Norwegian international Bobb scored his first senior goal for the club, following a mazy solo run which opened a tiny corridor for him to penetrate before beating Glazer.

Red Star have a respectable historical record against English clubs at the Rajko Mitic Stadium, losing only three of their previous 11 meetings, and they looked like they could mount a fightback late on, as the game came to life in the final 20 minutes.

Bukari again was electric in attack, and after finding space, he picked out substitute Jovan Mijatovic, but his first-time effort struck the outside of the post.

Red Star Belgrade's Hwang In-beom celebrates scoring their first goal with Vladimir Lucic on December 13, 2023© Reuters

The goal did come just a few minutes later to make things interesting again, as a one-two between Hwang and Bukari set the South Korean through, and he fired beyond Ortega with some venom.

Fewer than 10 minutes after that strike, though, the pendulum swung back in City's favour, as Hamilton drew a foul from Nasser Djiga in the penalty area, giving Phillips the chance to score his first City goal on a rare start for the former Leeds United man, and he took the opportunity brilliantly, sending Glazer the wrong way.

However, the action was still not over, as a left-wing corner from Hwang was met by Katai, capitalising on some weak City defending to reduce the deficit back to just one heading into five minutes of added time.

Red Star continued to apply the pressure in stoppage time, but they were unable to find a famous late equaliser, with Guardiola's men winning by three goals to two.

The win extends City's English-record unbeaten European record to 20 matches, and attention will now turn to Crystal Palace at the weekend, before jetting off to Saudi Arabia for the Club World Cup.

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