Manchester: Julian Alvarez saved Manchester City’s blushes after Red Star Belgrade took a shock lead at the Etihad as the holders began their Champions League defence with a 3-1 win on Tuesday.
The visitors’ goal had been bombarded before they stunned Pep Guardiola’s men when Osman Bukari opened the scoring in first half stoppage time.
However, Alvarez continued his sparkling early season form by levelling just two minutes after the break.
The Argentine then got some help from Red Star goalkeeper Omri Glazer as he flapped at Alvarez’s free-kick to allow the ball to fly into the far corner.
Rodri rounded off the scoring with a composed finish 17 minutes from time.
Red Star were expected to be lambs to the slaughter after City followed up their treble success last season with a perfect start five games into the new Premier League campaign.
But the English champions made life difficult for themselves with some wayward finishing, while Glazer performed heroics for the Serbian giants before the break.
Rodri and Alvarez stung Glazer’s palms before Erling Haaland headed against the crossbar from point-blank range.
Phil Foden then nodded an even easier headed opportunity straight at the Israeli goalkeeper.
City’s stretched squad due to injuries was shown as they named only eight of a permitted 12 substitutes, two of which were goalkeepers.
Bernardo Silva was replaced just before half-time by Jeremy Doku in what could be another injury problem for Guardiola.
Red Star had barely been out their own half in the opening 45 minutes, but City were stunned when Bukari burst in behind and finished confidently past Ederson.
The Ghanaian’s joy was temporarily quelled by the offside flag.
But a VAR check revealed he had been played onside by Ruben Dias.
City quickly went to work after the break to ensure that was to be the only shock of the night.
Haaland may not have found his range in front of goal, but the Norwegian’s clever pass played in Alvarez to round Glazer for the equaliser.
All of the Red Star goalkeeper’s good work was then forgotten as his miscued punch just helped Alvarez’s free-kick on its way into the top corner.
Rodri was the City hero when they finally conquered Europe for the first time by beating Inter Milan 1-0 in Istanbul in June and the Spaniard is picking up the healthy habit of scoring vital goals.
The midfielder was afforded far too much room on the edge of the area and picked his spot with a perfectly weighted curling effort into the far corner to secure the three points.
PSG defeat Dortmund
Paris Saint-Germain got their Champions League campaign off to a winning start on Tuesday as a Kylian Mbappe penalty set them up for a 2-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund at the Parc des Princes.
The French champions had dominated the first half without overly troubling the Dortmund defence, but they went ahead four minutes after the break when Mbappe scored a spot-kick awarded for a Niklas Suele handball.
Achraf Hakimi added a memorable second, and PSG could have won the Group F encounter by a far more handsome margin in the end.
The result immediately puts them in control of the group, after AC Milan and Newcastle United drew 0-0 earlier, and coach Luis Enrique will hope they can build on this performance when they visit the English side next in a fortnight.
Dortmund, meanwhile, were nowhere near their best and must improve when they entertain Milan next in what is an unforgiving section.
They are still adapting to life without Jude Bellingham and coach Edin Terzic also dropped Sebastien Haller here, with the big striker enduring a difficult start to the campaign.
PSG are in the early weeks of a new era following the departures of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Marco Verratti, and Luis Enrique’s arrival.
The former Spain coach, who won the Champions League with Barcelona in 2015, insisted on the eve of this game that he needs time to get his ideas across to his players, many of whom also arrived over the summer.
There were five new signings in PSG’s line-up here, including Ousmane Dembele and Randal Kolo Muani in attack.
Preferred to Goncalo Ramos, Kolo Muani was starting for the first time since joining from Eintracht Frankfurt.
With him, PSG controlled the first half, while Dortmund and their five-man defence sat back and offered little going forward.
PSG had the best chance of the opening period in the 19th minute, when intricate build-up play led to Vitinha hitting the upright.
Dembele later forced a save from goalkeeper Gregor Kobel at his near post, but PSG had precious little to show for a share of possession that reached almost 80 percent going into the break.
However, they got the breakthrough just after half-time, thanks to a helping hand from Suele, and the referee.
Barely 60 seconds of the second half had been played when a shot by Mbappe struck the Dortmund defender at close range.
Suele survived a VAR check when the ball struck his arm in the area late in the first half but this time Spanish referee Jesus Gil Manzano immediately pointed to the spot, although the award seemed harsh.
Mbappe stepped up to stroke in the penalty for his eighth goal this season, and the home side had done the hard part.
They scored again on 58 minutes as Vitinha and Hakimi combined for the latter to run through and prod home from close range.
It was a great goal, although Hakimi was helped by Mats Hummels throwing himself to the floor rather than standing up and trying to make a block.
Dortmund sent on Marco Reus and recent signing Niclas Fuellkrug up front, but it was another substitute who came closest to pulling one back with London-born teenager Jamie Bynoe-Gittens hitting the post with 11 minutes left.
PSG squandered several chances to score again and substitute Ramos had an effort ruled out for offside at the death.
Newcastle draw with AC Milan
Newcastle held AC Milan to a goalless draw in Tuesday’s opening match of their first Champions League campaign in two decades.
Eddie Howe’s Newcastle will be the happier of the two sides to earn a point from the Group F clash at the San Siro after being on the back foot for the vast majority of the match.
Milan should have won after wasting a string of chances, particularly in the first half, and dominating the play on Sandro Tonali’s return to his old stomping ground after being sold to Newcastle in July.
Milan sit top of a tough group before Paris Saint-Germain host Borussia Dortmund at the Parc des Princes later on Tuesday, level with their Premier League opposition.
Newcastle did little in their first match in Europe’s top club competition since 2003, the Saudi Arabia-backed team barely creating a chance and lucky to escape with a draw on the balance of play.
Tonali’s father was at the San Siro and saw much more football played by the hosts than by his son, back in the Newcastle starting line-up after missing international duty with injury.
The Italy midfielder was loudly cheered by home supporters who don’t resent his mega-money move to England before kick-off.
But home fans, who watched their team be thumped 5-1 by local rivals Inter Milan on Saturday, were left frustrated by their team’s poor finishing and Newcastle’s dogged defending which left the match goalless.
Champions League results
Group E: In Rotterdam
Feyenoord (NED) 2 (Stengs 45+2, Jahanbakhsh 76) Celtic (SCO) 0
Lazio (ITA) 1 (Provedel 90+5) Atletico Madrid (ESP) 1 (Barrios 29)
Group F: In Milan
AC Milan (ITA) 0 Newcastle United (ENG) 0
Paris Saint-Germain (FRA) 2 (Mbappe 49-pen, Hakimi 58) Borussia Dortmund (GER) 0
Group G: In Berne
Young Boys (SUI) 1 (Elia 33) RB Leipzig (AUT) 3 (Simaken 3, Schlager 74, Sesko 90+2)
Manchester City (ENG) 3 (Alvarez 47, 60, Rodri 73) Red Star Belgrade (SRB) 1 (Bukari 45)
Group H: In Barcelona
Barcelona (ESP) 5 (Felix 11, 66, Lewandowski 19, Bataille 22-og, Gavi 54) Antwerp (BEL) 0
In Hamburg, Germany
Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR) 1 (Kelsy 13) Porto (POR) 3 (Galeno 8, 15, Taremi 29)