Ex-Swallows keeper's UCL hopes dashed

UEFA Champions League

Emmanuel Egbo's Tirana saw their UEFA Champions League qualifying journey come to an end after a 1-0 defeat to Red Star Belgrade.

The Albanian outfit is managed by the former Nigerian international goalkeeper, who once upon a time donned the colours of Moroka Swallows in South Africa’s top flight in 2001.

Red Star, who once thumped Premier League champions Liverpool 2-0 in the Champions League group stage in November 2018, penetrated first when Aleksandar Katai shot wide earlier on.

The Albanians refused to sit back and began opening up slowly following the latter stages of the half, but the crucial killer touch in attack was the missing link.

Both sides went to halftime all square with the breakthrough proving hard to come by on either side despite showing persistence across the four lines of the pitch.

Red Star looked to turn on the heat four minutes from halftime with Mirko Ivanic entering in favour of Srdan Spiridonovic following an attacking switch.

Tirana found a rare foray in attack before 60 minutes and was able to bring Red Star goalkeeper Milan Borjan to work following a threatening attempt from Ernest Muci.

The deadlock was finally broken on 61 minutes after continuous pressure play from the Serbians had Tomane at the end of a delivery to rattle the back of the net with a firm header.

Red Star closed in towards a second goal with talisman Katai leading the charge following the final minutes, but 1-0 was how the match finished as Tirana’s fairytale venture comes to an end.