| BELGRADE, April 23
BELGRADE, April 23 Serbian champions Partizan
Belgrade took a big step towards a record fourth successive
league title after a superb Prince Tagoe goal gave them a 1-0
home win over city rivals Red Star on Saturday.
Ghana striker Tagoe, who joined Partizan on loan from
Bundesliga side Hoffenheim during the winter break, scored his
third goal in as many games against Red Star to send the league
leaders three points clear of their bitter foes.
Partizan have 62 points with six games left, Red Star are on
59 and third-placed Vojvodina Novi Sad are six points off the
pace after a 1-0 setback at OFK Belgrade.
With the north tier of Partizan's stadium empty after Red
Star's die-hard fans boycotted the derby because it was played
on Easter weekend, the home side had all the support from the
25,000 fans in the terraces.
But it was the visitors who dominated a lively first half
and almost took a first-minute lead, when Partizan defender
Stefan Savic headed a teasing cross from the left against his
Aleksandar Jevtic headed over the bar for Red Star from
close range and his strike partner Andrija Kaludjerovic missed
the best chance in the first half, when Partizan keeper Vladimir
Stojkovic denied him with a reflex save.
Partizan were confined to several half-chances, the best
falling to Tagoe and Stefan Babovic, who scuffed his shot wide
from eight metres after a flowing move.
The game appeared to fizz out in the second half before a
quick move down the left flank left Tagoe with plenty of work to
do, but the striker turned his marker with some ease and then
buried his shot into the roof of the net from a tight angle.
A constant threat up front with his pace and running off the
ball, the Ghanaian sent the home fans into raptures with his
eighth goal in 10 games for Partizan, stretching Red Star's
winless league record at their neighbours to three years.
"I have to congratulate Partizan because they wanted it
more, while we can only rue the chances we missed in the first
half," said Red Star coach Robert Prosinecki who won the
European Cup with the club in 1991.
"Not having our faithful in the north tier was a blow but I
don't think it was the decisive factor."
His Partizan opposite number Aleksandar Stanojevic said the
champions should not take the title for granted.
"We are in a commanding position now but the title race is
not over and we have to stay focused so that we cross the finish
line first," he said.
"It was an excellent derby and a tremendous first half, many
people expected us to falter in the derby after letting Red Star
back into the title race with several slip-ups but the players
showed character and resilience."
(Editing by Alan Baldwin, To query or comment on this story