Partizan wins troubled Belgrade derby, 92 hooligans under arrest

Partizan wins troubled Belgrade derby, 92 hooligans under arrest

BELGRADE - Reuters
Partizan wins troubled Belgrade derby, 92 hooligans under arrest

Serbian riot police officers arrest a Partizan fan during his team’s Serbian National League match against Red Star. AP photo

Fan violence outside Partizan’s stadium overshadowed a tepid Belgrade derby that the league leaders won 1-0 against Red Star on May 18 thanks to a stunning late free kick from Milos Jojic.

More than 90 fans were arrested before the match after Partizan’s team bus was pelted with rocks when approaching the stadium and rival supporters also fought running battles on Belgrade’s outskirts, Serbian police said in a statement.

“The incidents, including a few minor scuffles, resulted in the arrest of 92 individuals, three of whom were juveniles,” it said.

The arrested, who included some 20 Bosnian nationals, four Russians and one Greek, are accused of taking part in several fights in various Belgrade neighborhoods, notably in the suburbs, both before and after the match.

A bus transporting Partizan Belgrade players was stoned but no one was hurt, police said.

In the stadium, Red Star fans burned several seats at the final whistle after both sections of supporters had lit dozens of flares and unleashed firecrackers early in the second half, forcing referee Milorad Mazic to halt play while the billowing smoke cleared.

The result left Partizan five points clear of Red Star at the top of the table with two rounds remaining and firmly on course to win a record sixth successive league title after substitute Jojic curled in a 90th-minute free kick.

Winning streak ends

It also ended Ricardo Sa Pinto’s perfect eight-game winning streak after the former Portugal forward took over at Red Star in March and hauled the 1991 European Cup winners back into the title race from an 11-point deficit.

“It was difficult to lose like this after winning eight in a row and getting into a position to leapfrog Partizan and we were also unlucky with some of the referee’s decisions,” Sa Pinto told a news conference. “We had some chances in the first half but our game up front fell apart after [striker] Darko Lazovic limped off with an ankle injury early on.”

His counterpart Vuk Rasovic was delighted after his maiden derby, having been appointed coach last month.

“It was the ideal outcome of a difficult match in which we defended well to weather the early storm and then controlled the game to earn this priceless win,” he said. “I congratulate the players for this memorable moment and I am sure the celebrations will last until the early morning hours.”