Liverpool suffered a shock in Serbia as two goals from Milan Pavkov gave Red Star Belgrade victory in their Champions League group-stage encounter.
Victory would have taken Liverpool three points clear at the top of Group C but they drop to second following Napoli’s draw with Paris Saint-Germain in Italy.
Forward Pavkov headed his side into the lead after 21 minutes and fired a powerful effort into the bottom corner to make it 2-0 shortly afterwards.
The hosts dominated the first half and came close through Vujadin Savic and El Fardou Ben Nabouhane before Pavkov’s opening goal.
Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge squandered a great chance from six yards out in the 17th minute.
The Reds had more than 80% of the possession and hit the woodwork twice in the second half but could not score as Red Star recorded their 10th clean sheet in their last 15 home games in Europe
Liverpool were not at the races in Serbia and they were punished for it.
A hard-fought draw against Arsenal at the weekend appeared to take the stuffing out of Jurgen Klopp’s side as they were slow to react to the hosts’ blistering start.
Sloppy passes in midfield and poor choices in attack were taken advantage of – Pavkov’s second goal arrived after Liverpool had given the ball away.
Klopp was short on midfield options, given the injury to Jordan Henderson. Naby Keita was fit enough only for the bench, while Adam Lallana made just his second start in Europe since 2014.
Liverpool improved in the second half as Salah came close on several occasions but Red Star blocked everything in front of goal.
The Reds were favourites to progress from Group C before kick-off but they are still to play PSG and Napoli in their final two games so last year’s finalists may face a nervous wait to see if they qualify for the knock-out stages.