Red Bull Salzburg visited and empty Rajko Mitic Stadium yesterday to play Red Star Belgrade and played to a scoreless draw in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League qualification playoff. The muted game saw limited chances but Salzburg controlled the pace and looked more dangerous on the ball.
Red Star Belgrade and Salzburg Draw in UCL Playoff Opener
“It was a difficult game played in a somewhat strange atmosphere,” said manager Marco Rose. “Despite that, both teams fought to make chances and tried to play their own game. We tried to play football and and the opponents chase after the ball but in some moves we were lacking conviction. At the end a 0-0 draw result that was probably fitting for the atmosphere.”
The game was played in an empty arena due to sanctions on the Serbian side. This led to a match that felt more like a scrimmage than a game with Champions League implications. It didn’t help that neither team could find a goal.
One of the best chances in the game came from the home side when a corner kick header was stopped by Cican Stankovic in the 70th minute. The attempt was in the six yard box, forcing the Austrian keeper to react quickly. He not only made the initial stop but also cleared the rebound to keep the game level. Salzburg’s best chances came in the first half but none forced the opposition keeper into any real danger.
“It was clear right from the start that the tie wouldn’t be decided in Belgrade,” said Stankovic following the game. “They are good opponents, even if they weren’t so dominant today. As a team we stood our ground well today though. The chances Red Star had today were mostly from set pieces, and we did well at stopping their breaks.”
The two sides will meet again on next week on August 29th. Belgrade will have the away goal rule working to their advantage as the scoreless draw means Salzburg wasn’t able to gain an advantage.