Red Star gets historic Serbian cup win
A thrilling and highly anticipated conclusion of the Serbian national cup tournament it was on Sunday in Serbia’s capital Belgrade. Arch rivals Red Star and Partizan squared off at the Banjica pool to determine if either Partizan could defend its title or Red Star managed to capture a historic cup win; their first in twenty years. And as expected the game was close all the way. A jam-packed Banjica saw an epic water polo match with simple but highly effective play by Red Star in the first half while the contest became more dynamic after the main break. It was Red Star who struck first and remained in the lead throughout almost the whole game and even broke out to a 5-2 lead at half time courtesy of a superior second quarter in which three unanswered (man-up) goals made Dejan Savic’ squad the favorites to win at the half time mark. But Partizan, playing with the blue caps but in their home pool, came back in the second half. First by just one goal in the third term but after Dusan Mandic has shot his team to a 7-5 score at the end of the third quarter, Partizan continued their sharp shooting in the final session of regulation as Gavril Subotic from man-up and two successive long range shots off free throws by Ivan Basara and Stefan Mitrovic got the ‘Black and White’ up 7-8 in the final phase of the game. Red Star found an answer in Boris Vapenski who struck on man-up as Mitrovic got a major foul in the very next possession after his beautiful goal. A tense last twenty seconds followed in which both teams had one chance for the winner on man-up. Mitrovic’ attempt hit the post off an excelling Denis Sefik and Dusko Pijetlovic saw his shot blocked by a crowded Partizan defense with just seconds remaining in regular time so extra time was forced. Just like in regular time, both defensive sides were led and highlighted by goalkeepers Slobodan Soro (Partizan) and Denis Sefik (Red Star) who continued their nice performance in overtime as scoring goals became even harder then before. The first half saw no goals but formed just a warm-up for a tense second half in which Red Star center and Serbia international Dusko Pijetlovic emerged as game saver. Sharp as always at his position at the post on man-up possessions for Red Star it was Pijetlovic who managed to tip in a rebound with two Partizan defenders all over him. Although a major blow, Partizan was not done though. Andrija Prlainovic, guarded well all game and remained scoreless, got his third major foul on the next possession but it was goalie Denis Sefik who blocked two consecutive Partizan attempts of scoring. That sealed the victory as time ran out and Red Star could start celebrating its first trophy this year and first of former great Dejan Savic as head coach.
Serbian national cup
Crvena Zvezda (Red Star) vs. Partizan Belgrade 9-8 (2-2, 3-0, 2-3, 1-3; Extra time: 0-0, 1-0)
Red Star scorers: Marko Avramovic 3, Strahinja Rašović 2, Dusko Pijetlovic 2, Boris Vapenski 2.
Partizan scorers: Stefan Mitrovic 2, Milos Cuk 2, Nikola Dedovic, Dusan Mandic, Gavril Subotic, Ivan Basara.
Top photo: Dusko Pijetlovic’ second of the night prooved the winning goal
Stefan Mitrovic, here looking to shoot past Nikola Radjen, scored to put Partizan up 7-8 but could not avert the cup final loss
Andrija Prlainovic, here guarded by Stefan Mitrovic, was well defended throughout the match and had trouble being as offensive dominant as he can be and was in the team’s earlier meeting this season
Dusko Pijetlovic celebrates after scoring one of his two goals