Red Star celebrated their Champions League qualification on Tuesday – by riding an armoured vehicle through the streets of Belgrade.
The Serbian champions secured their progression to the group stage of the competition for the second season in a row, after a 1-1 draw against Young Boys took them through on away goals.
Aleksa Vukanovic put Red Star ahead in the 59th minute, before an own goal from substitute El Fardou Mohamed Ben Nabouhane made for a nervy final nine minutes for the home side. However, Young Boys couldn't find another goal, and Red Star can now look forward to finding out their Champions League group stage opponents on Thursday.
Prior to the match, Red Star fans had sparked controversy by placing a T-55 battle tank outside the Rajko Mitic Stadium. The BBC reported that the vehicle was unveiled with a message that read: “The Northern Army (the Red Star fans) is stronger with a combat vehicle.”
The stunt evoked strong memories of the Balkans’ violent past among the nations bordering Serbia.
Red Star Belgrade fans have parked a real battle tank, used during the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, outside their stadium in the Serbian capital, prior to a Champions League qualifying game: https://t.co/5cnvt71MD0pic.twitter.com/z3xQ4TSkNx— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) August 28, 2019
The tank has been labelled as deliberately provocative by some in Croatia and Bosnia, as it was unveiled on the anniversary of fighting beginning in the Croatian town of Vukovar during the country’s War of Independence.
Some reports claim that a group of rival Dinamo Zagreb fans responded to that act by placing a rusty tractor outside of their home ground, symbolising the flight of the Serbs on tractors after the Croatian army pushed them out of the country in 1995.
The tank wasn’t the only military vehicle on display in Belgrade on Tuesday. Following their victory, Red Star fans and players clambered aboard an armoured car and raced around the streets of the Serbian capital, letting off a number of flares. You don't get this down the King's Road...
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