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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

25,000 fans flock in as Partizan sink Red Star in Belgrade derby to reach Serbian Cup final

A near-capacity 25,000 crowd turned out for a tense Belgrade derby in a familiar atmosphere at Partizan’s stadium as both sets of fans lit flares and taunted each other.

By: AP | Belgrade | Updated: June 11, 2020 9:13:52 pm
A near-capacity 25,000 crowd turned out for a tense Belgrade derby. (AP Photo)

Holders Partizan Belgrade beat bitter city rivals Red Star 1-0 on Wednesday to reach the Serbian Cup final as fans were allowed to attend games in unrestricted numbers for the first time since the coronavirus halted soccer in the Balkan nation in mid-March.

A near-capacity 25,000 crowd turned out for a tense Belgrade derby in a familiar atmosphere at Partizan’s stadium as both sets of fans lit flares and taunted each other, with Bibras Natcho settling the match in the 58th minute.

Natcho’s close-range shot trickled through Red Star keeper Milan Borjan’s arms into the net after dazzling footwork from striker Umar Sadiq, who left his marker flat-footed and squared the ball to the Israeli midfielder.

Sadiq was a handful all evening for Red Star’s defenders, running past them almost at will and only a string of good saves from Borjan denied the towering Nigerian a goal.

Red Star fans watch the Serbian National Cup semi final soccer match between Partizan and Red Star in Belgrade. (AP Photo)

Red Star, who won the league title with three games to spare on May 29, the 29th anniversary of their historic 1991 European Cup triumph, looked a pale shadow of the team that marched through Serbia’s 16-team top tier.

Their best chance came on the stroke of halftime when El Fardou Ben Nabouhane hit the woodwork with a fine free kick and Aleksa Vukanovic’s header into the back of the net from the rebound was disallowed for offside.

Partizan fans cheer their team prior to a Serbian National Cup semi final soccer match between Partizan and Red Star in Belgrade. (AP Photo)

The visitors were fortunate not to concede more goals in the closing stages as they threw men forward, with substitute Seydouba Soumah and Sadiq going close for Partizan.

Vojvodina Novi Sad won 1-0 at Cukaricki Belgrade earlier in the day to reach the final on June 24 when they will face Partizan.

Red Star fans light torches during a Serbian National Cup semi final soccer match between Partizan and Red Star in Belgrade. (AP Photo)

Vojvodina, who won the Cup in 2014, advanced after Nemanja Covic turned in a Nikola Drincic cross in the 31st minute.

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