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Pehari

What a European night!

Crvena zvezda qualified for UEFA Europa League knock-out stages with a hard-fought 1-0 win over 1.FC Köln on an evening that will live long in the memory of the red-and-whites. Slavoljub Srnić scored midway through the first half to send the packed Rajko Mitić stadium wild and ensure Belgrade club spends New Year in Europe for the first time after 25 years.
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Ground: Rajko Mitić Stadium
Attendance: 51,364
Referee: Bobby Madden (Scotland)
Goalscorer: Srnić 22'

Teams:

Crvena zvezda: Borjan, Stojković, Le Tallec, Savić, Rodić, Donald, Jovičić, Kanga, Krstičić, Srnić, Boakye.
Substitutes: Supić, Babić, Gobeljić, Račić, Milijaš, Adžić, Pešić.

1.FC Köln: Horn, Olkowski, Sörensen, J. Horn, Rausch, Jojić, Lehmann, Özcan, Clemens, Osako, Guirassy
Substitutes: Kessler, Klünter, Jakobs, Risa, Ouahim.

 

The visitors from Germany did their best to get a win they needed to qualify, but Zvezda's defence again proved very disciplined and produced another clean sheet that Head Coach Vladan Milojević will be delighted with. Cologne side, bottom of Bundesliga and clearly low on confidence, lacked cutting edge and Crvena zvezda showed some very responsible football and took one of few chances to grab a famous victory.

The key moment came on 22 minutes when Krstičić played a smart ball down the left flank. Milan Rodić raced onto it and whipped a low cross towards the penalty spot. Slavoljub Srnić's clever movement enabled him to escape his markers and finish strongly to the almighty roar from the Belgrade crowd.

With Arsenal beating FC BATE, it turned out that Crvena zvezda would qualify even with a draw in Belgrade. But Milojević's men battled with everything they had to ensure another win over the German side that gave us some bitter memories back in the late eighties.

It was a joy to witness yet another mature performance by the red-and-whites who never looked like surrendering the lead. There were some strong showings across the team and it was particularly pleasing to see Srnić take the plaudits as the little winger's been very unlucky not to score lately in the Superliga.

The final whistle was marked by wild celebrations by the fans and players alike and it continued long into the night.

Crvena zvezda is now the only club in the competition's history to have entered the competition on the First Qualifying Round and progressed all the way to knock-out stages. There were some excellent results along the way and the best part our European adventure will continue in February.

We will learn our opponents in the Round of 32 on Monday, 11 December when the draw in made. We're certain to land a bin-name opposition as we're unseeded for the draw. Whoever it is, Zvezda fans will undoubtedly enjoy their team's campaign in the UEFA Europa League.

Well done, you red-and-whites!

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