Partizan Belgrade eased
the pressure off their new coach Avram Grant after handing the
Israeli his first win since he took charge of the Serbian
champions with a 2-1 victory over city rivals OFK on Wednesday.
The former Chelsea manager came under fire after two draws
against unfancied rivals which cut Partizan's lead at the top to
six points as neighbours Red Star, looking for their first
league title since 2007, had closed in with a pair of wins.
"We played better football on Saturday [in a 0-0 home draw
with Sloboda Sevojno] but we are delighted to have won today
because three points from this game is all that matters," Grant
told a news conference.
"It is a nice feeling to get off the mark, we deserved this
victory and should have scored more goals."
However, Partizan were fortunate to come away with the
spoils on a poor and rock-hard pitch after the home side had a
strong penalty claim waved away before visiting goalkeeper
Vladimir Stojkovic also denied them with two excellent saves.
Midfielder Nemanja Tomic fired Partizan ahead with a superb
free kick from 30 metres and Bulgaria defender Ivan Ivanov
headed the winner after Ecuadorean striker Augusto Batioja had
equalised with an unstoppable header.
Partizan's teenage forward Lazar Markovic then got away with
hauling down Batioja on the stroke of half-time and Partizan hung
on in the second half as Stojkovic came to their rescue.
Red Star kept up the pressure with a 4-0 home win over
Smederevo as their vociferous fans again turned up in numbers at
the Marakana stadium.
The 1991 European Cup winners delighted 40,000 faithful
supporters as new signing Luka Milunovic scored his second goal
in as many games for the club and striker Filip Kasalica also
netted on his debut.
Midfielder Milunovic headed in a perfect cross by Cadu in
the 14th minute before the livewire Brazilian forward converted
a penalty either side of Kasalica's clinical finish after he
rounded the goalkeeper.
Kasalica, who came on as a second-half substitute, found the
back of the net with his first touch of the ball for Red Star to
boost their confidence ahead of next week' cup semi-final
against holders Partizan.
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