* Partizan win 24th league title
* Grant happy with flurry of goals
(adds byline, quotes)
By Zoran Milosavljevic
BELGRADE, April 29 (Reuters) - Partizan Belgrade secured
their 24th league title and fifth in a row with Sunday's 4-0 win
at Borac Cacak, finally giving coach Avram Grant success after
the Israeli suffered a series of setbacks in England.
The result gave Partizan an unassailable 12-point lead over
traditional city rivals Red Star, who they meet at home on
Saturday in a derby which is likely to draw a full house despite
amounting to a dead rubber.
Midfielder Sasa Markovic sent Partizan on their way with a
long-range effort in the first half before Bulgaria defender
Ivan Ivanov and a late brace from Senegalese striker Lamine
Diarra sealed matters.
Grant, who took over in January, failed to save either
Portsmouth or West Ham United from Premier League relegation in
successive seasons after being sacked by Chelsea having lost the
2008 Champions League final to Manchester United.
This time a 10th league win in a row helped him finally grab
a trophy for the first season since sealing the Israeli title
with Maccabi Haifa in 2002.
"It's a great feeling to win the title with three games to
spare and we have reaped the rewards of playing attacking and
free-scoring football throughout the campaign," the 57-year old
"It may have looked easy from the terraces but Borac fought
well and the score doesn't do them justice."
Partizan are one league title short of equalling Red Star's
record but Grant's priority next season will be to build a team
capable of reaching the Champions League group stages via the
The board made that his target when the former Israel boss
With the club's limited budget and likely departures of
several key players, including the prolific Diarra, playmaker
Zvonimir Vukic and central defender Nemanja Rnic, it may turn
out to be a tall order.
"Straight after the derby with Red Star, we have to focus on
the upcoming challenge of qualifying for the Champions League
because the title is in the bag, but I don't know if I will
still be here," said Rnic.
"It is time to celebrate now and enjoy ourselves because we
won the title rather emphatically, having topped the standings
throughout the campaign."
Partizan beat Red Star 2-0 away in the reverse fixture in
October, when they were managed by Aleksandar Stanojevic, but
lost both legs of the cup semi-final to their neighbours by the
same score after Grant took over.
(Editing by Mark Meadows)
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