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In the 60 year old history of European Cups, only two Clubs from the East won the title of European Champion – Steaua from Romania and our Crvena zvezda. The Crvena zvezda stem will remain in the opening of the program dedicated to the Champions League, but the achievements in 1991 are just the tip of the iceberg made of great results of many Crvena zvezda generations.

Although our club has gone through a relatively unsuccessful 15 years in European competitions, because Crvena zvezda managed to linger in European competitions until Spring back in 1992, our spot on the list of most successful clubs in European Cup history cannot be taken away by anyone.

Crvena zvezda started the season 2007/2008 as the 16th team on Eternal UEFA List, right behind Dinamo from Kiev and ahead of Celtic and PSV from Eindhoven. The results from the current season can take us up to the 15th position or push us down to the 18th position.

Besides winning the Champions League and Intercontinental Cup in 1991, Crvena zvezda had played the UEFA Cup finals 12 years earlier, reached the semi-finals of European Cups six times, and the quarter finals 15 times . Even though it’s not one of the official UEFA competitions, Central European International Cup used to be very prestigious, and Crvena zvezda won it in 1968.


The beginning

Crvena zvezda European story began on November 3rd 1956, in a small Dutch town of Kerkrade, located in the province of Limburg, on the very German border. The first opponent in the first round of Champions League in the season 1956/1957 was the Dutch Champion Rapid JC Heerlen (which later moved completely to Kerkrade and changed its name to Roda).

The future that was awaiting our club was obvious at the very beginning, and after a lot of drama and a twist, Anton Rudinski assured the 4:3 victory. In the return match, 11 days later, Crvena zvezda won easily, 2:0 thus securing the next round.

In February, Crvena zvezda was awaited by CDNA from Sofia (nowadays CSKA), which was on the verge of a disaster in Belgrade, but managed to reach 1:3, and then Crvena zvezda went through the first European defeat 2:1, insufficient, though, to stop our team. At the very first attempt, Crvena zvezda reached the semifinals of Champions League.

The Italian champion team of Fiorentina arrived in Belgrade on April 3rd. After a tough struggle, the final decision was made in the last three minutes, when Maurilio Prini managed to overpower Krivokuća. In the return match, the two teams were completely equal and there were no goals. The Florence team went to the finals at Santiago Bernabe. The red and white team in the two matches was represented by Krivokuća, Popović, Zeković, Mitić, Spajić, Tasić, Šekularac, Toplak, Cokić, Kostić, Rudinski, Beara and Tomić. Their success would be reached again only 14 years later.

The end of the fifties was a period of Crvena zvezda’s domination in national competitions, during which our team won 4 titles and 2 cups in 5 seasons. That’s how Crvena zvezda got its chance to prove itself on European levels the very autumn, again in the Champions League. In the first round, Stade Dudelange from Luxembourg was outclassed (5:0 and 9:1, 6 goals by Bora Kostić), and the matches with Swedish IFK  Norrköping taught us that a football match needs to be played during 90 minutes, and in European competitions even 180 minutes.

The first match was played in Sweden and it seemed to be calm until the very ending, and then the home-team scored two goals in a short time. Crvena zvezda stayed focused, and managed to reach the draw in the last three minutes of the match, with two goals scored by Toplak and Kostić. In Belgrade, Norrköping had the lead throughout most of the match, but then two goals by Ljubiša Spajić in the last 15 minutes assured Crvena zvezda’s participation in the quarter-finals.

And there they were awaited by the famous Busby Babes, the most talented generation in the history of British football, which had flourished at the same time as the Crvena zvezda team. In the first match, on January 14th, Crvena zvezda lost its lead and lost the match 2:1, and the return match was played at JNA stadium on February 5th 1958. In one of the most exciting games in the history of European competitions, two goals scored by Bobby Charlton gave the English an advantage of 3:0 at halftime. But, Kostić and Tasić managed to bring our team to 3:3 58 minutes into the match. Half an hour of total drama later, the result remained the same, and Manchester United reached the semi-finals.

The footballers of the two teams spent the evening hanging out together, not even imagining what would happen the very next day. On its way back to England, the airplane with the Manchester United team crashed at Munich Airport. 21 people were killed, among them, 8 players of Manchester United, including 22-year-old Duncan Edwards, who, by many experts, was claimed to be the best British footballer ever. One of the worst disasters in the history of world football bounded closer together the two big football clubs forever.


The 60s


During the next 12 years Crvena zvezda reached their biggest achievements in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, where they, just like they did previously in the Champions League, kept reaching the semi-finals and quarter-finals season after season.

During the season 1961/1962 our team reached the double game with Barcelona after playing Basel, Hiberniana and Español. If a few years before then Bora Kostić had been Crvena zvezda’s trump card (14 goals in two seasons of Champions League), the striking was now in the hands of Melić (4), Stipić and Maravić (3 each). Double-scorer Šekularac and Milan Galić, reinforcement from Partizan, were marvelous in the 5:0 triumph over Español. In the semi-finals, Barcelona, led by Sándor Kocsic and José Antonio Saldua, was too strong for our team, they won in Belgrade (2:0) and at home (4:1).

The revenge to the club from Catalonia would come eight months later, in the second round of the same competition. Before that, Crvena zvezda eliminated Rapid, and turned over the result with “blaugran” in eight minutes from 0:2 to 3:2. Eighty-six minutes into the match, there were no goals at Camp Nou stadium on that December 19th 1962, when Luis Cubilla hit the Crvena zvezda’s net. Back in those days, a goal away meant nothing, so a rematch was scheduled on January 2nd in Nice to break the tie. The French Riviera was auspicious for our team, and Bora Kostić’s penalty shot was enough for us to win. In the quarter-finals, Red star played Roma, and after 0:3 at the Olympic stadium, the two goals Malešev scored just weren’t enough.

In the remaining seven matches in that period, our team had some overwhelming wins (5:0 against Atletico form Bilbao, 8:0 against Linfield from Belfast), they fought some interesting battles (they were defeated in a rematch by Rangers, and were eliminated by Vorwärts from Berlin due to a goal away), but never managed to go further than the second round.

The sixties are the least successful period in the club’s history before Yugoslavia was divided, in national as well as in international competitions. Problems began back in 1958, when Crvena zvezda didn’t qualify for European competitions, because the Cup Winners’ Cup hadn’t been started yet, and Europe didn’t see Crvena zvezda in the season 1963/1964 and neither in 1967/1968, after it took the seventh and the fifth place in the national championship.

We can’t forget our club’s results in The Central European International Cup. It’s a competition which was as prestigious before the Second World War as the Champions League is today. After it was renewed in 1956 it maintained its reputation for the next 15 years or so. Crvena zvezda participated in the first three editions, reaching at first the quarter-finals, and then the semi-finals, before they won the Cup in 1958.

The Central European International Cup was played during summer time back in those days, i.e. during season break, and in 1958 Crvena zvezda defeated Czechoslovakian Dukla from Pardubice, Lokomotiva from Sofia and Radnički from Belgrade, before defeating the homonymous Ruda Hvezda from the Czech town of Cheb.

In the following eight years Crvena zvezda only played The Central European International Cup once, and once they returned, they didn’t do too well in the first two seasons. But, in the season 1967/1968 (by those days the competition dates had been placed within the season), the Trophy returned to Belgrade again, to the club’s showcase at Marakana. Two Hungarian clubs stood in the way, Diósgyőri, from Miskolc and Újpesti Dózsa and two Slovakian rivals – Inter Bratislava and in the finals, Spartak from Trnava (who had at the time won 5 out of 6 Czechoslovakian titles). In all four games played away from home, Crvena zvezda was defeated with a minimal score, while they won all the matches played at home with a total of 14:2 goals. After winning the second Trophy, Crvena zvezda retreated from the Central European International Cup and gave other teams a chance, as the competition was slowly losing its prestige.


The 70s – The Birth of a European Giant


At the very end of the sixties, a new, brilliant Crvena zvezda generation stepped in. It was gathered from Crvena zvezda’s own offspring, coached by Miljan Miljanić and with Dragan Džajić in the field. In the national competitions there was no real challenge for the team (five trophies won in three years) and in 1970 they were finally mature enough for European competitions. At the beginning of that campaign, things didn’t look so well. An old acquaintance, Újpesti, which we had defeated in The Central European International Cup, and who had defeated us twice ten years before that in the European Cup, won a home game 2:0.

But the brilliant red and white season began on September 30th in the return match with the Hungarians, where Crvena zvezda scored four goals. Great matches continued with Romanian Arad (3:0, 3:1) and in the quarter-finals we were awaited by Carl Zeiss from Jena. Crvena zvezda went through virtual hell in Saxony, orchestrated by the referees, Džajić and Antonijević were sent off, and Carl Zeiss won through an invented penalty shot. The return match at chock-full Marakana became legendary. The games played against Panathinaikos became legendary as well – on April 14th Novković, Aćimović and Janković brought Crvena zvezda significant advantage, Kamaras lowered it, and Ostojić set the final score 4:1 in front of 100.000 people in the audience. The return match in Athens 14 days later has been a subject of various theories for the past three decades and a half. What’s for sure is that Crvena zvezda let the advantage slip away and that goals scored by Antoniadis (2) and Kamaras took Panathinaikos to the London finals, where they would be defeated by Ajax. Crvena zvezda players in the two matches were Dujković, Đorić, Klenkovski, Novković, Bogićević, Pavlović, Janković, Karasi, Filipović, Aćimović and Ostojić. Džajić and Antonijević were still suspended (in Jena they got suspended for four matches). The defeat didn’t bring our footballers down. In the following three seasons, they reached the third round, assuring twice the participation in the Spring part of the competition. On their way, they defeated Valencia twice (1972) and the Polish champion Stal from Mielec (1973), whose players were the base of the Polish national team, ranked in the third position in the World Championship the following summer.

However, the greatest achievements were reached in matches with Liverpool. It was Bill Shankly’s last coaching season (he is the one who made one of the most memorable statements in the history of sport: “Football is not a matter of life or death. Football is much more than that.”), who led the team to the national title and the European Cup that season and wanted to say good-bye by winning the title of the European Champion. Crvena zvezda won at Marakana 2:1 on October 23rd, and 14 days later Lazarević and Janković made sure the result was equal also at Anfield. This would later turn out to be the only defeat in the Champions League Liverpool suffered at home in the 20th century! During the season 1974/1975 the time came for a new semi-final, this time in the Cup Winners’ Cup. In the first two rounds, Crvena zvezda defeated PAOK from Thessaloniki and Avenira from Luxembourg, and in the quarter-finals our players were facing the grand Real Madrid. On March 6th 1975, Crvena zvezda was awaited by Miljan Miljanić at San Bernabeu, only this time he played the role of Real Madrid’s coach. 125.000 Real fans were also waiting at the stadium, and they were the most numerous audience our club has ever seen. The home team won 2:0, but it wasn’t enough in this duel with Crvena zvezda. Thirteen days later, 100.000 people celebrated the glorious victory, achieved through goals scored by Džajić and goalkeeper Olja Petrović through a penalty shot. In the overtime there were no goals, and in spot kick our team won 6:5, the last goal was scored by Janković, and Petrović defended Santillana’s penalty shot.

The next month Crvena zvezda was defeated by Ferencváros 2:1, and the return match turned into a legend as it was the most visited Marakana game. 96.070 tickets were sold, and it is estimated that around 110.000 people were in the audience, which is twice the present capacity of our stadium. They all went home disappointed because a penalty shot by Megyesi 83 minutes into the game brought the final score to 2:2 and Ferencváros were in the finals.


Borussia – the first European finals


The beginning was, once again, difficult – in Berlin Crvena zvezda conceded three goals to Dinamo in half an hour, and then re-struck twice quickly, but in the end they yielded and were defeated with 5:2, the last goal scored by Brille a minute before the match ended. The lesson was learned, and the match ending would until the end of the competition be Crvena zvezda-time. In the return match the German took the lead and maintained the advantage 58 minutes into the game. That’s when the turnover began, completed with a goal by Šestić in the last minute, ending the game with 4:1.

Crvena zvezda won the match against Sporting from Gijon in Gijon and drew at home, and both goals were scored in the last 10 minutes of the match. The third opponent was Arsenal, who was also eliminated with the score 1:0 and 1:1, and the decisive goal was scored by Savić at Highbury three minutes before the end, following one of the most beautiful actions in the history of the club.

The first Spring opponent was also English – West Bromwich Albion – and there were no changes in the result either, the usual 1:0 and 1:1, Savić scored in Belgrade (a free kick) and Šestić in the Birmingham suburb (a lob) in the last five minutes.

The semi-finals took Crvena zvezda to Berlin again, this time to the other side of the wall, the opponent is Hertha. Red star won the first match at home with the usual 1:0 (the fifth goal scored by Dule Savić in this competition), but in Berlin the home team had a lead 2:0 18 minutes into the game. Nevertheless, Miloš Šestić took it on to eliminate this second opponent from Berlin and assure Crvena zvezda’s entrance into the finals.

And there our team was awaited by Borussia from Mönchengladbach, German team which had won most trophies in the seventies (five titles) and which played five European finals in the period 1973-1980. Šestić continued to terrorize the Germans at Marakana on that May 9th, but an auto-goal by Jurišić gave the opponent a psychological advantage before the return match. The return match was played in Düsseldorf, where the Italian referee Michelotti, gave the Germans a present – a penalty shot, and the Danish referee Simonsen gave the final verdict.

The red and white uniform in those final matches was worn by Stojanović, Jovanović, Jovin, Muslin (Krmpotić), Miletović, Jurišić, Petrović, Blagojević, Savić, Šestić (Milovanović), Milosavljević, and the coach who led the team was Branko Stanković.


The eighties – learning and preps


During the following four seasons, Crvena zvezda played all three Cups and was always eliminated by European football giants, Bayern, Inter, Anderlecht and Barcelona. On their way, our players faced the snowy fields in Norway twice and Maltese clay once (because Hibernians didn’t want to pay for the only grass pitch in the country).

The third round of the UEFA Cup in the 1979/1980 season brought great sorrow to the fans of Crvena zvezda, who had already thought that huge success was at hand. Bayern won in Munich 2:0, but Crvena zvezda had the lead at Marakana 3:0 60 minutes into the game (goals scored by Savić, Petrović, Repčić). That’s when our players retreated and let in the two defeating goals. But, pay-back time would come 12 years later.

In the following season Crvena zvezda got to quarter-finals of the Champions League, and another goal by Srebrenko Repčić gave our team an excellent score draw 1:1 against Inter at San Siro. The only goal scored in the return match was scored by the Italian team, so Crvena zvezda stayed short of their third semi-finals in the history.

Our team got a new chance the very next year, when they faced Anderlecht in the quarter-finals. The Belgian team, led by Tomislav Ivić, was victorious in both matches with the score 2:1, before they got eliminated by the winner-to-be Aston Villa.

That same Autumn, Marakana hosted the world’s best footballer during the last quarter of the 20th century. Crvena zvezda conceded four goals to Barcelona, and no opponent’s player had ever received such ovations like Diego Armando Maradona, following his spectacular lob.

Two weak seasons followed up, marked by eliminations in the first round. At first, Crvena zvezda was outplayed by Hellas Verona, led by Fan and Elkjær, and afterwards the show Janjani gave at the end of the match with Benfica (hat-trick for the score turn-over from 0:2 to 3:2) simply wasn’t enough, because two goals were conceded in Lisbon in the last fifteen minutes of the match.

In the mid-eighties Crvena zvezda was eliminated twice by clubs from Madrid, and both times in the first Spring round. The constant presence of our club in the continental scene is best depicted by the fact that they managed to linger until Spring part of the competition five seasons out of nine since 1978 to 1987.

The Cup Winners' Cup season 1985/1986 participation was marked by the so called Zjajo case, which inflicted a 5-week postponement of the second round return match with Lyngby. UEFA ruled in favor of Crvena zvezda, so our team played against Atletico. After 0:2 score in Madrid (we had also been defeated with the same result by “The Mattress Makers“ 12 years before, in the European Cup finals), our team only managed to reach the score 1:1, and the red card, which was given to Milko Đurovski for ironically applauding Serbia, was an introduction to the player changes which would take place on the team.

A year later, Crvena zvezda hosted an important visitor for their 42nd birthday and it was the club who had won most trophies in the history. In extremely cold weather, Crvena zvezda was brilliant and had a lead of 3:0 until the half-time. Real managed to reach 4:2 (with one penalty shot missed and one scored), and it was enough for Crvena zvezda to triumph in the return match with 2:0 and pay them back for the defeat suffered back in 1975. Before this match, our stadium witnessed another revenge for the 70s, when in the first round we outclassed Panathinaikos with 3:0; the goal scored by Musemić being an unforgettable one.


The Big Plan


The new management had already prepared a five-year plan and the idea was for our club to win the European Champion title, but during the first three seasons Crvena zvezda couldn't even manage to stay in the competition until the Spring round. Everything began with an easy victory over Trakia and a disaster in Bruges. In the autumn of 1988 Marakana hosted a new mega-spectacle with an unexpected re-run.

In the second round of the European Cup, Crvena zvezda was facing the European dream team of the days –AC Milan, Berlusconi's team, led by the Dutch trio van Gullit-van Basten-Rijkaard. Milan was an absolute favorite, but at San Siro Crvena zvezda managed to reach a 1:1 draw, for the second time in history. The hero of the day was Dragan Stojković, whose solo-goal on the match is one of the most beautiful goals in the club history, and Virdis replied to this action with a goal just a minute later.

The return match at Marakana lasted full 24 hours. On November 9th Savićević's goals gave Crvena zvezda an advantage, but due to the fog the match was interrupted after 61 minutes. The next day the match was re-played, van Basten and Stojković scored, so overtime and penalty shootout were played. Stojković and Prosinečki scored the spot kicks, while Savićević and Mrkela were prevented from scoring by Galli. All four Milan shooters scored: Baresi, van Basten, Evani and Rijkaard. The “rossoneri“ team was unstoppable throughout the rest of the European season, but afterwards, Crvena zvezda time was to come.

However, in the meantime, Crvena zvezda played the UEFA Cup in the season 1989/1990, and the competition was started with a triumph over Galatasaray, just like 10 years before. A double victory over Žalgiris followed, and then on November 22nd the two goals scored by Dejan Savićević gave Crvena zvezda a huge advantage over Köln. Fourteen days later, Crvena zvezda was routinely controlling the game for an hour, but then Falco Goetz managed to make a comeback for his team by scoring two goals. Prosinečki missed a clear shot 90 minutes into the game and just a minute later Frank Ordenewitz sends the ”Billy Goats” into the finals. A new opportunity for Crvena zvezda was coming the following Autumn, and this time they would make the best of it.

After winning the title in Bari, Crvena zvezda had to defend the Trophy outside their country due to the war in ex-Yugoslavia. UEFA reorganized the competitions that year and instead of the European Cup they started the Champions League. Eight best teams of the continent were to take part in this competition. In the qualifications round Crvena zvezda defeated Portadown and Apollon Limassol in Szeged and away. Crvena zvezda’s opponents in the group were Sampdoria, Anderlecht and Panathinaikos.

The competition began with a defeat, 0:2 in Marasy, the first after 17 matches (the fifth longest no-defeats series in the elite European competition). After that, Anderlecht was defeated in Budapest, as well as Panathinaikos in the Spring round both in Athens and Sofia. The key match was against Sampdoria, when Crvena zvezda let the 1:0 advantage slip away and was defeated with 1:3. This led the Italian team to the London finals. The end of an era, during which Crvena zvezda managed to play the Spring rounds in European competitions 11 times in 22 years and managed to linger in one of the European Cup competitions for 24 seasons, came in Brussels where Crvena zvezda was defeated 3:2 in a meaningless match.

At the end of May the United Nations imposed sanctions on our country, which banned Serbian and Montenegrin football from the international scene. Once they return to Europe, Crvena zvezda would not, however, receive fair treatment.


Return to Europe


During the 1994/1995 season UEFA and FIFA admitted our footballers back into the competitions, but while the National team picked up where they left off in the Spring of 1992, the clubs had all their results erased and were treated like beginners in the European scene. That’s how Crvena zvezda, European Champion in 1991, preliminary participant in 1992 and quarter-finals participant in 1990 (all the three seasons counted when the participants were being chosen in the summer of 1995), was placed at the very bottom of the list. Instead of a place in the Champions League (as FR Yugoslavia’s champion in 1995), Crvena zvezda was transferred into the UEFA Cup. That decision would have long-term catastrophic consequences for our team – instead of enjoying the benefits of their own, years-long work and facing less challenging rivals on their way to the preliminary round of The Champions League, Crvena zvezda would get the toughest opponents at the very beginning and the competitions would start as soon as July.

The first match after the comeback was played on August 8th 1995 against the Swiss team of Xamax. Sixty thousand people came to greet the new generation which was highly ambitious, in spite of all problems. After a series of missed chances, the team was punished with a goal 87 minutes into the match. There were no goals in the return match, so Crvena zvezda ended the European season in August, which had never happened before and would never happen again.

If the first European season left us shocked, the second one left us hopeful. Instead of Ljupko, the coach was Vladimir Petrović and the leaders of the new generation were the two teenagers Dejan Stanković and Perica Ognjenović. Crvena zvezda managed to eliminate Hearts through two draws, a minimal defeat in Kaiserslautern was followed by a brilliant evening ended with three goals for our team in the aggregate. The award for this 4:0 victory was a duel with Barcelona, for the fourth time in history. Barcelona was the strongest team not playing the Champions league that year, a fact which was also confirmed by Barcelona’s winning the Cup Winners’ Cup. However, Crvena zvezda did not surrender, they had the lead in both games (the games ended with the 1:3 and 1:1 scores) and the atmosphere at Marakana on that last day of October 1996 was probably the most magnificent in the previous 15 years, with a beautiful choreography and Belgrade panorama on the west stand.

During the next season, Crvena zvezda was troubled by Helsinki and Ekeren, and finally they got stuck in the mud due to a heavy rain which started along with the match. Similarly unsuccessful the participation two summers later, when the team struggled with Neftchi from Baku just to be eliminated by Montpellier afterwards.

Between the two seasons we got a chance to see quite a sequence in the UEFA Cup. Georgia’s feeble Kolheti’s goal got hit 11 times, before respectable rivals like Rotor from Volgograd and Metz were eliminated, and Olympique from Marseille turned out to be an unbreakable barrier, who, by the way, took an advantage of the UEFA double standards and managed to have Crvena zvezda host the game in Bucarest instead of Belgrade.


New Century, New Triumphs


After 5 years, Crvena zvezda won the National Champion title in 2000 thus opening the doors to the reformed Champions League qualifications, where they defeated KI Klaksvik and Torpedo from Kutaisi and then went on to play Dinamo from Kiev. It would later turn out that this was the best opportunity to reach the elite competition – in Kiev we played 0:0, in Belgrade Crvena zvezda had the lead for 11 minutes, but Valentin Bjelkevič’s goal away was decisive. Crvena zvezda moved to UEFA Cup, where they were better than Lester City (even though the return match was played in Vienna), and they were doing quite well against the Celta, until it was determined that there was an administrative mistake: two players were in the field and they shouldn’t have been allowed to play in Vigo.

Then there was another try in the Champions League, a victory over Omonia, and then 0:0 and 0:3 with Bayern from Leverkusen, who would later get to the finals. In the UEFA Cup, Crvena zvezda failed terribly, since they were eliminated in the first round by the feeble team CSKA from Kiev.

Two seasons in the UEFA Cup follow up, the first games played in Kazakistan and Moldova, victories over Chievo and Odense, and then failures with their neighbors Lazio and Rosenborg. Crvena zvezda had a great opportunity to make it to the Spring round against the Norwegians – they had a man up in the field in Trondheim and the match ended without any goals scored, but the only goal in Belgrade was scored by Brattbakk.

The new title in 2004 and the excellent preps of the rejuvenated team brought along new ambitions, and two victories in Belgrade over Young Boys and PSV just made them firmer. Only a day before the return match in Eindhoven, Nikola Žigić got injured and Crvena zvezda was facing a serious problem. The inexperienced team reacted badly; PSV won the return match 5:0. It was the most crushing defeat in the European history of the club and it would have a deep impact on the whole generation. Still in the state of shock our team was defeated 4:0 in Saint Petersburg by Zenit and thus said good-bye to UEFA Cup as well. Ljupko Petrović resigned from the coach position for the third time.

Crvena zvezda stepped successfully on the stage of the renewed UEFA Cup in 2005 – in the qualifications they outclassed Croatian Inter, in the first round they defeated Braga through a goal away, so Crvena zvezda got into the preliminary group with Basel, Tromsø, Roma and Strasbourg. Crvena zvezda played the Swiss team with no audience at the stadium. They had the lead, they played well and – lost thanks to a score three minutes before the end of the game. In Norway they were expected to triumph, but all we saw was a crushing defeat. When it seemed that there were no hopes for the next round, our team defeated Roma. Nikola Žigić’s brilliant game stood out, so a victory in the last round in Strasbourg would’ve guaranteed the participation in the competition in the Spring. The game in Alsace started very well, Crvena zvezda had a 2:0 advantage 10 minutes before the end of the game, but two huge mistakes made it possible for a teenager Gameiro to become famous and hit our team hard 10 seconds before the end of the match.

In the following year of 2006 the red-whites failed to reach the Champions League, since Milan from Italy, which obtained the right to participate in qualifiers despite being suspended for participation in the “Calciopoli” affair, prevented them as the final obstacle. As it would turn out, the team from Milan won the most prestigious continental cup at the end of the season. On the other hand, Crvena zvezda also failed to reach the second European competition by quality - the Europa League. The red-whites were eliminated by Liberec from Czech Republic pretty straightforwardly, although only several months earlier they easily managed to beat the same rival during pre-season preparations. The summer of 2007 was marked by another failed attempt to pass into the Champions League. The Scottish team Rangers was better than the team led by Milorad Kosanovic. In the first game in Glasgow the red-whites conceded at the very finish, more precisely in the last minute of the game, when Nacho Novo scored, as it would turn out after the Belgrade rematch, the only goal in the two-match duel of two clubs. Then the duel with Groclin followed for passing into the group stage of the UEFA League. With two minimal wins, Crvena zvezda enabled its supporters to see their team in four new European games. The group stage started with the battle against the old rival, Bayern Munich, for the first time after the semi-final of the European Cup in 1991. Until the very end the most decorated Serbian club was close to winning with goals scored by Milijas and Koroman, but in the last moments of the game the Bavarian club scored twice and, to a certain extent, managed to get even for the defeat experienced 16 years earlier. Unfortunately, the red-whites failed to repeat the play they demonstrated against the German team until the end of the group stage of the competition. Defeats from Aris, Bolton and Braga followed, so the team from Ljutice Bogdana Street finished the European fall of 2007 in the last place without any points won.

The next participation in the season 2008/09 was also inglorious. Crvena zvezda ended its European tale in two matches against Apolon from Cyprus. In the first match it was 2:2, to have Cyprians move on to the next round after many twists and two overtimes in the rematch at the Marakana stadium, thanks to the away goal rule. The score was 3:3. The next season brought changes in all club structures – Vladan Lukic was elected as the new President, and Vladimir Petrovic – Pizon became the new head coach. That had somewhat positive effect to the newly formed team that, although nobody gave it any chances, successfully overcame two obstacles on its course towards the Europa League. Wins were made against Rudar from Velenje, and Dinamo from Tbilisi in one of the most interesting games in the newer history of Crvena zvezda. Then the key two-match duel with Slavia from Prague followed, where the red-whites paid a great cost for mistakes made in the away game, and entered the return game at the Marakana stadium with three goals down. Despite this, having been carried forward by great support from the stands, Crvena zvezda’s players were close to a big comeback, since after the first 45 minutes they were only a goal behind. Unfortunately, the Czech team managed to shake our net in the second half and remove all dilemmas. In 2010 the new season was entered very ambitiously, but the red-whites again, quite unexpectedly, tripped against the first obstacle. The defeat from Slovan in Belgrade by 2:1 announced the end of another European tale for former champion of Europe and the world. Despite great combat in Bratislava, we could not achieve more than a draw. The final score of the game was 1:1.Two painful experiences with French clubs followed. First Rennes was persuasive in both games by outplaying, at that time, the team of Robert Prosinecki in the season 2011/12. The red-whites could have found comfort in the win from the third round of qualifiers, when they demolished Ventspils by 7:0 and when one of the highest wins in club’s history was achieved when it comes to European games. The European journey had another sloppy start in the season 2012/13. After a lot of problems, we “passed” the Naftan from Belarus, and Omonia from Cyprus by being better after the penalty shootout. Before the two-match duel of the final qualifying round Robert Prosinecki resigned as the head coach, and 48 hours before the match against Bordeaux Aleksandar Jankovic, then coach of the Serbian national youth team, took his place. After a great combat there were no goals, so Crvena zvezda left for rematch with an active result. Everything started as in a dream. Volley kick of Mladenovic at the finish of the first half announced a great surprise. Having been aware of the negative score, the Girondins entered the second half with a completely offensive style, which paid off, since they managed to turn the score around and take the lead by 2:1. However, that was no end of surprises at the “Chaban Delmas” stadium. A minute before the end Mikic scored the goal that would lead our team into the group stage of the Europa League. Still, it turned out that it had not been so, since after a series of errors by our defense, in injury time Bordeaux scored the third goal from the penalty kick and left the field as the winner of the two matches. Our players returned to Belgrade with disbelief and in tears.

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