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A new beginning

Crvena zvezda marked the start of the 2017/18 season with an easy 3-0 win over Floriana FC of Malta. The road to the UEFA Europa League group stage is a long one, but the first step was a right one. Richmond Boakye starred with two goals to his name.
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Ground: Rajko Mitić Stadium
Attendance: 19,823
Referee: Mattias Gestranius (Finland)
Goalscorers: Boakye (pen) 45+2', 89', Srnić 78'.

Teams:
Crvena zvezda Belgrade: Manojlović, Stojković, Savić, Frimpong, Anđelković, Donald, Le Tallec, Srnić, Milić, Ricardinho, Boakye.
Substitutes: Kahriman, Gobeljić, Račić, Milijaš, Adžić, Vučićević, Pavkov.

Floriana: Haber, Baldacchinho, Pepe, Ruiz, Pisani, Varela, Nayar, Vella, Ricciardi, Chiesa, Fontanella
Substitutes: Grech, Borg, Spiteri, Zarb, Cabral, Agius, Nyason.

In extremely hot conditions in Belgrade the home team started brightly and attacked the Greens, who were largely focused on defence. But it was the Maltese Cup winners who had the first big chance as Varela hit the post with a long range shot that totally stunned Manojlović.

Minutes later Boakye dispossesed one of Floriana's defenders, but was unable to get a shot in quickly enough and was chased down by the visiting goalkeeper Haber.

Midway though the first half Nemanja Milić was in a decent position after a Dušan Anđelković's left wing cross, but former Spartak forward couldn't keep his header down.

Mitchell Donald was eager to try and score, but none of his three attemots were on target.

The breakthrough came in the worst possible time from the visitors' perspective. Just before the break Nemanja Milić did well to get ahead of his marker Enzo Ruiz and get into the box. Ruiz then pulled Milić to the ground and earned himself a sending off. Richmond Boakye dispached the resulting penalty with confidence and set his team on course to victory.

It was all Zvezda after the restart as 10-men Floriana couldn't create anything going forward.

Filip Stojković nearly doubled the lead on his return to the club, but right back's low shot from outside the box was only just wide.

Head Coach Vladan Milojević's first substitution was to send Nenad Milijaš on in place of Nemanja Milić. And the experienced midfielder gave Crvena zvezda that creativity in the middle of the park.

It was after a Milijaš corner that the red-and-whites finally got that second goal. Haber punched the ball, but it fell perfectly for Slavoljub Srnić, who reacted well and headed home to make it 2-0 on 78 minutes.

Richmond Boakye made it 3-0 late on after a scramble in the Floriana box and made it a convincing win ahead of the second match.

The return leg will be played on Thursday, 6 July in Malta.

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