Aussies Abroad: Degenek the hero for Red Star
Caltex Socceroos defender Milos Degenek has been the catalyst to help his Red Star Belgrade side qualify for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in 17 years.
On the same day he was named in Graham Arnold’s 31-man squad for a training camp in Turkey, Degenek inspired an incredible fightback in his side’s second-leg tie against Red Bull Salzburg.
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After the first leg finished goalless in Serbia, Red Star looked headed for the exit as they trailed 2-0 with less than half an hour to play.
But up stepped Degenek to provide assists for both goals as his side drew 2-2 to advance to the UCL group stage on the away goals rule.
First, the 24-year-old won possession on the edge of Salzburg’s box before his cross found Mohamed Ben Nabouhane at the far post to score.
Then just a minute later, Degenek got on the end of a free-kick and looped a header towards goal, with Ben Nabouhane forcing it over the line from close range.
Red Star held on for the last 25 minutes to book their spot in the competition for the first time since the 1991-92 season, with the away fans invading the pitch at full time to mob Degenek and his teammates.
Elsewhere, Trent Sainsbury’s PSV Eindhoven also secured their spot in the draw for the group stage after a 3-0 win over Belarussian champions BATE Borisov.
PSV led 3-2 after the first leg and completed the job at home, although Sainsbury wasn’t in the squad for the Eredivisie champions.
The draw for this season UEFA Champions’ League group stage will be held on Friday morning (AEST).