Europa League: Nabouhane propels Red Star Belgrade past CFR Cluj

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El Fardou Ben Nabouhane
The Comoros international got a goal and two assists as the Red-Whites strolled past the reigning Romanian champions

Red Star Belgrade defeated CFR Cluj 4-0 in Tuesday’s Europa League first leg play-off round, with El Fardou Ben Nabouhane finding the net.

The Comoros international got a second-half goal as the Red-Whites saw off the Romanians, who have failed to win any of their last four games in the tournament.

Having crashed out of the Champions League following a 2-1 aggregate loss to FC Sheriff, the Serbian Super Liga side were demoted to the Europa League.

To stand a chance of progressing to the competition’s group stage, Dejan Stankovic’s team put up an impressive attacking display to hit their visitors for four.

The game was just five minutes old when Red Star took the lead through Milan Pavkov. The Serbian midfielder reacted quickest to head a rebound from Nabouhane’s shot past goalkeeper Giedrius Arlauskis.

Seven minutes before the half-time break, the hosts doubled their advantage through Aleksandar Katai who was set up by Pavkov.

Nevertheless, their comfortable lead was threatened on the stroke of half-time as manager Stankovic was mandated to replace injured Milos Degenek for Radovan Pankov.

Cluj began the second half well, however, their numerous goalscoring attempts were thwarted as goalkeeper Milan Borjan made some fine saves.

Victory was guaranteed for the Serbians in the 68th minute through Nabouhane, who drilled home from the edge of the box with Mirko Ivanic supplying the assist.

Thirteen minutes from full-time, the African star turned provider for Ivanic as the Romanians returned home with heads bowed low.

Alongside Cote d’Ivoire’s Sekou Sanogo, Nabouhane was in action from start to finish but Gabon’s Guelor Kanga – who was handed a place in the starting XI - was subbed off for Nenad Krsticic in the 72nd minute.

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Cluj boss Marius Sumudica did not list the quartet of Ulrich Meleke (Cote d'Ivoire), and Rachid Bouhenna (Algeria), Anas Tahiri (Morocco), and Mike Cestor (Congo) for action.

Before Red Star Belgrade travel to the Dr. Constantin Radulescu Stadium for the return leg on August 26, they host Backa Topola in a league game on Saturday.

After four matches played so far, the seven-time league winners occupy the third position in the log after accruing ten points.