Ruthless Red Star send Rangers Europa League warning with fireworks on and off the pitch in Novi Pazar romp

Ruthless Red Star Belgrade warmed up for their Europa League clash with Rangers with a stroll in the snow as their crazy fans provided fireworks to match on the terraces.

The Serbian champions visit Ibrox this week for the first leg of the Last 16 tie and RecordSport was live in Serbia as they raced to a four-goal lead within 21 minutes against, admittedly, the bottom team in their league.

Norwegian dangerman Ohi Omoijuanfo started the scoring in this one-sided clash and classy midfielder Aleksandar Katai scored a double along with a goal from Montenegro international Mirko Ivanic as they threatened to run riot in the first half before they took their foot off the gas. Katai would go onto complete his hat-trick.

And to celebrate their 77th birthday, Red Star fans unleashed an impressive fireworks display in the same minute while playing raging on and the players didn’t appear to even blink.

Perhaps given the very limited opposition of Novi Pazar, Rangers shouldn’t be too alarmed, but certainly Red Star attack at breakneck speed and Guelor Kanga linked up well with Omoijuanfo and El Fardou Ben Nabouhane in an attacking sense.

They dominated the midfield and weren’t troubled in defence, but in fairness Red Star’s manager, 43-year-old ex-Lazio and Inter Milan star Dejan Stankovic, could probably have strolled through this game.

They missed enough chances to score double figures, although it’s important to put into context how limited their opponents were with Canadian No.1 keeper and Red Star captain Milan Borjan barely touching the ball.

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Red Star handed free entry to all their supporters as a thank you for the backing they gave them in last week’s Eternal Derby win against Partizan Belgrade where 45,000 packed into the Marakana and to celebrate their milestone.

Red Star fans set off flares

However, on a freezing cold afternoon, only around 3,000 of their famous Delije fans bothered to turn up for this routine win in the huge bowl of a stadium. Mind you, what a noise they made.

Where Red Star will have to do work is on repairing the away section of the old stadium after Partizan hooligans well and truly left their calling card last week. Just about every seat in the south stand was wrecked or ripped out entirely although Red Star chiefs insisted yesterday it would be fully repaired in time for the visit of Rangers fans.

It was one-way traffic from the start and the hosts took just eight minutes to take the lead when Norwegian striker Omoijuanfo poked home from close range to score his 32nd goal in just 37 appearances this season and although 28 of them were for Molde, he’s now netted four goals in five games for Red Star since his arrival in the winter transfer window,

He’s behind only Bayern Munich legend Robert Lewandowski in the European Golden Shoe race and the 28-year-old will be a huge danger to Rangers.

Ivanic nearly made it two with a shot over the bar, but the second goal was only delayed until the 16th minute when Aleksandar Katai cooly slotted the ball over the keeper to double their advantage.

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Almost straight from kick off, it was three when Ivanic did score this time by lobbing the ball into the net after the visitors tried a disastrous offside trap.

The fourth came when Red Star again took advantage of atrocious defending for Serbian international winger Katai to claim his second goal of the game. It was 4-0 with less than a quarter of the game gone.

Red Star did at least appear to show a degree of sympathy to their outclassed opponents and treated the rest of the first half as a glorified training exercise.

They finally got their first goal in the 56th minute when Katai completed his hat-trick after once again finding too much space to be able to pick his spot.

But by far the biggest entertainment of the afternoon came in the 77th minute when those fans produced that stunning fireworks display inside the stadium – while the game was going on – to celebrate their birthday.

And they gave notice to Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men that they will be a tough nut to crack.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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