Five added minutes had just flashed up on the scoreboard when Jurgen Klopp wearily turned his back on the action and trudged to his seat.
He had seen enough. Liverpool’s manager had spent most of the game with arms outstretched like a scarecrow, screeching his fury, but it had been pointless. Klopp’s team had been wretched.
As he sat down, his thoughts would have turned to how he can make sure Liverpool are not eliminated from the competition that means so much to them. One false move in their last two games, against Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli, and the Reds could be out.
Red Star Belgrade took the lead and looked pumped up after breaking the deadlock through Milan Pavkov (left)
Andrew Roberton’s face summed up the feeling among Liverpool players after the visitors conceded in Serbia on Tuesday
The home fans were sent into raptures and the Red Star team celebrated in fine style after Pavkov’s effort early in the tie
Virgil van Dijk looked unusually shaky at the back and covered his head with his shirt after the Reds conceded in Serbia
That is the reality following an abysmal 90 minutes in Belgrade, which ended with a superb Red Star side recording their most famous win at this level — thanks to two terrific, unanswered Milan Pavkov goals — since they lifted the European Cup in 1991.
Perhaps Liverpool thought it was going to be a formality. Klopp would never entertain that suggestion and the players would deny it, but this was a display that invited such stinging criticism.
The contest would surely have been different if Daniel Sturridge had snaffled the kind of opportunity in the 17th minute that you would expect him to convert with his eyes closed.
It was at the end of the one Liverpool move before the break that had any fluency. The ball went down the left, from Adam Lallana to Sadio Mane, and the forward’s cross squirted past Andy Robertson to Sturridge. His shot from six yards was high and horrible.
MATCH FACTS, RATINGS AND MATCH ZONE
RED STAR BELGRADE (4-2-3-1):
Borjan 7: Stojkovic 7, Savic 8, Degenek 7, Rodic 7: Krsticic 7 (Jovicic 73mins), Jovancic 7: Srnic 8, Marin 8, Nabouhane 8: Pavkov 8.5
Subs not used:
Popovic (GK), Babic, Stoiljkovic, Causic, Simic, Gobeljic
Goals – Pavkov 22, 29
Booked – Marin
Manager – Vladan Milojevic 8
Becker 6: Alexander-Arnold 5 (Gomez 46mins 6), Matip 5, Van Dijk 5, Robertson 6: Milner 5, Wijnaldum 5, Lallana 5 (Origi 79mins): Salah 6, Sturridge 5 (Firmino 46mins), Mane 5.5
Subs not used:
Mignolet (GK), Fabinho, Keita, Firmino, Gomez, Moreno
Booked – Lallana
Manager – Jurgen Klopp 6
Referee – Antonio Mateu Lahoz
Attendance – 51,318
Man-of-the-Match – Milan Pavkov
Daniel Sturridge missed a golden opportunity to put Liverpool in front early on but his shot flew over the bar
Pavkov towered above the Liverpool defenders and powered his header beyond Alisson into the bottom corner
Alisson stood rooted to the spot and watched as the ball nestled into the corner and his side fell behind in the game
The Red Star Belgrade fans provided plenty of noise and created a hugely hostile atmosphere for Jurgen Klopp’s men
Klopp was startled by the miss and did a double take, while Sturridge was so aghast that he clamped his hands over his eyes. His constant head-shaking showed he was replaying it in his mind.
How costly it proved. Red Star, whose fans provided a relentless din of encouragement and intimidation, saw a chance to get a foothold in the contest and, with more than a little help from last season’s runners-up, they took it.
Their first goal arrived following a mistake by Virgil van Dijk, usually a figure of such calm and poise. He fluffed a clearance to Ben Nabouhane, whose shot from 20 yards was turned away by Alisson. From Marko Marin’s resulting corner, Pavkov plundered the first of his two goals.
Such was Red Star’s delirium at going in front that some of their backroom staff ran down the touchline and ended up in Klopp’s technical area, but any anger he felt was aimed solely at his statuesque defence.
If that was bad, worse was to follow. Liverpool’s midfield was getting overrun, but the feeble way in which Gini Wijnaldum was brushed aside after James Milner had squandered possession deserved punishment and Pavkov duly obliged.
Pavkov was given a chance to start by Red Star manager Vladan Milojevic and took full advantage by scoring a first-half brace
The forward’s second goal of the game came from just outside the box as he smashed a drive beyond the goalkeeper
Spirits soared among the Red Star players as they put Liverpool’s qualification to the knockout stages in doubt
Alisson has yet to be on the losing side in the Premier League since joining Liverpool but this was his second European defeat
Daniel Sturridge was crowded out at every opportunity by a swarm of Red Star defenders before he was replaced
Trent Alexander-Arnold goes airborne as he competes with Milan Rodic in a full-blooded challenge at Rajko Mitic Stadium
With Wijnaldum frantically trying to get back into position, Pavkov held out his arm to fend off the Holland international and unleashed a shot that ended up in Alisson’s net before the keeper had even finished his dive.
There is not much elegance about Pavkov, who is a big slab of a centre forward, but what he lacks in grace he makes up for with power. The celebrations, in keeping with the night, were suitably manic.
Liverpool had not come from two goals behind in a European game since April 2016, when they defied logic to beat Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League quarter-finals, but there was not a sliver of hope of them repeating the feat here.
Klopp was apoplectic on the sidelines as his side failed to find a way back into the Champions League clash on Tuesday night
Mo Salah looked downcast after he hit the bar and struggled to haul Liverpool back into the game against a resilient defence
Joel Matip came into the team in defence after Dejan Lovren stayed at the team hotel as illness prevented him from playing
The home crowd produced a huge amount of noise throughout the game, even with Red Star on the back foot after the break
Milan Borjan instructs his side to calm down and keep their composure in the face of a Liverpool spell of pressure
Don’t be kidded by the fact they dominated possession in the second period and spent the last 15 minutes launching balls towards Van Dijk, who became a fifth striker at times.
Red Star were never at their wits’ end, remaining disciplined and tenacious to the last.
If one moment summed up this abject Liverpool display, it came when the out-of-sorts Mane somehow passed the ball straight out of play, rather than down the touchline, while barely two yards from Klopp.
In terms of scoring chances after the interval, the best Liverpool could do was a cross from Robertson (56 minutes) that looped off a defender on to the top of the bar and a shot from Salah (71 minutes) that thudded off the outside of a post following a corner.
The manner in which heads dropped at that point was telling and Liverpool have now lost three consecutive away games in Europe for the first time since 1979. Should that sequence be extended in Paris three weeks from now, the ramifications will be grave.
Liverpool’s history is littered with tales of escapology, but if they play like this again, their campaign is finished. Klopp knows that better than anyone.
Liverpool’s progression in the Champions League hangs in the balance after the unexpected defeat in Serbia on Tuesday
The home side played superbly and stuck to their game plan in thwarting Liverpool during the second half of action