Milos Degenek led Red Star Belgrade’s rock-solid defence to a 0-0 draw against Napoli in the Caltex Socceroo’s UEFA Champions League debut.
The 24-year-old was a key figure in the heart of the Serbian Superliga champions’ backline as Vladan Milojević’s side stifled the Italian outfit, who were the second highest goalscorers in Serie A last season.
In an emotional night at Rajko Mitic Stadium, Red Star were making their return to the highest level of European football for the first time in 26 years, when they were defending champions following their European Cup victory in 1991.
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The hosts rode their luck when Napoli's Lorenzo Insigne struck the cross bar on 28 minutes before Red Star goalkeeper Milan Borjan pulled off a fine save from Arkadiusz Milik while under pressure from Degenek.
The Blues' Spanish attacker Jose Callejon saw his effort cleared off the goal-line as the Serbians held on to secure a share of the points.
Degenek recorded the highest passing accuracy of Red Star’s back five with 63%, while registering 10 clearances and two interceptions to negate Carlo Ancelloti’s side, who controlled 73% of total possession.
Elsewhere in Group C, Liverpool defeated Paris Saint-Germain 3-2 with Roberto Firmino grabbing a last-minute winner after Kylian Mbappe hed levelled for the French juggernauts in the 83rd minute.
You can vote for Degenek to win man of the match on Red Star's official Twitter account:
Caltex Socceroos helpless as Messi sinks PSV
Trent Sainsbury and Aziz Behich had front row seats to a Leo Messi masterclass as the Argentinian talisman scored a hat-trick in FC Barcelona’s 4-0 win over PSV Eindhoven in Group B.
The Caltex Socceroos pair were unused substitutes as Mark van Bommel’s side held firm against the Spanish giants through 75 minutes, only trailing 1-0 to Messi’s 32nd-minute strike.
Three goals in the last 15 minutes shattered the Dutch team’s hopes of a result, with Ousmane Dembele doubling the lead and Messi adding two more goals despite Samuel Umititi’s red card.
Inter Milan downed Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 with a late comeback in the other Group B clash. Mauro Icardi and Matias Veccino scored in the last five minutes to flip the script after Christian Eriksen had given Spurs a first-half lead.
Defensive shift for Jedinak
Mile Jedinak returned to the Aston Villa back-line and starred in their 2-0 triumph against Rotherham United in the English Championship.
Tammy Abraham opened the scoring and Yannick Bolasie sealed the three points at Villa Park. Jedinak dominated in the air, winning 10 aerial battles, more than any other player in the match.
The 34-year-old added 13 clearances and two interceptions without losing possession once, to help clinch the win for Villa, putting them in sixth place in the table.
Hull City fell to a 2-1 defeat Wigan Athletic with Jackson Irvine playing 90 minutes on the left side of midfield.
The 25-year-old Caltex Socceroo had a half-chance to give the Tigers a lead but skewed his effort wide on 15 minutes before Sam Morsy and Josh Windass’ goals dented Hull’s chances.
Jarrod Bowen hit back before half-time but Nigel Adkins’ men could not force their way back into the game, leaving Hull 18th on the Championship ladder.
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Degenek not taking his foot off the gas
Twelve months ago, Caltex Socceroos defender Milos Degenek was playing in Japan — now, he’s tearing up Serbia’s SuperLiga, having been named in the league’s best eleven for the first half of the season. It’s a credit to Degenek, 24, who signed with Red Star Belgrade in July