Partizan head coach Savo Milosevic hailed the club's supporters after fans flocked to watch the Serbian Cup holders upstage bitter rivals Red Star Belgrade following the coronavirus pandemic.

Serbian football resumed behind closed doors on May 29 but there were no restrictions on crowd numbers on Wednesday as defending champions Partizan beat neighbours Red Star 1-0 in the semi-finals.

A near 25,000 capacity crowd watched Partizan move a step closer to a fifth successive Serbian Cup crown following Bibras Natcho's 58th-minute winner at Stadion Partizana midweek.

"I thank the fans for their fantastic support and it was great to grind out this win in front of a full house," Milosevic said.

"Having that kind of support was absolutely imperative today. It was great to see a near-capacity crowd after such a long barren spell."

After a limited number of fans watched Red Star rout Radnik Surdulica 4-1 on Saturday, a full house greeted Dejan Stankovic's men in the Serbian capital.

Red Star have already wrapped up a third consecutive league title, but they were denied a first league and cup double since 2006-07.

Milosevic, who was appointed last year and claimed the Serbian Cup in his first season, added: "I think we did pretty well in a very tough match and reaffirmed that when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

"It was tense, tempers flared here and there but no one crossed any lines and credit to Red Star too for their sportsmanlike behaviour."

Seven-time champions Partizan will face Vojvodina in the final on June 24.

Jamaica basketballer Samardo Samuels has admitted to making mistakes in the past but insists he is older and wiser as he looks to continue a successful career in Europe.

The 31-year-old former Cleveland Cavalier player has had a checked career, with many well-noted instances where he was accused of being disruptive and indiscipline.  Since the 2013 season, the player has had short stints with at least 10 international clubs, some of which saw his contract terminated under acrimonious circumstances.

 In 2017 for instance, after signing with Serbian club Partizan, he was suspended just one month later.  Samuels was suspended by the club for the violation of its discipline policy and the provisions of his contract, the day after Partizan lost in a EuroCup game against Alba Berlin. 

The suspension was a result of his public criticism of the club, head coach Miroslav Nikolić and other inappropriate remarks toward a female reporter.

“Definitely, we’re human, we make errors. The older you get, the more you understand your errors and possibly more circumstances where I could have been less vocal and simpler, in social media platforms and everywhere,” Samuels said in a recent interview.

“I could have remained in training of course, be peaceful, but that’s something you find out with age. Now I’m much better at 31, I’m a much better guy. I still have this experience having fun for fantastic clubs and coaches,” he added.

“People constantly bear in mind the negative points. I think about the game and the fans that like  to see me play, like the Greek All-StarGame for instance, it’s a true blessing.”

 

Monaco have won the race to sign highly-rated teenage defender Strahinja Pavlovic from Partizan Belgrade.

The 18-year-old, a 6ft 4in centre-back, has been a first-team regular for Partizan this year and has made 55 senior appearances for the club.

Partizan sit second in the Serbian top flight, the Super Liga, and will retain Pavlovic on loan for the rest of the season.

Both clubs confirmed the deal on Wednesday, with Monaco saying: "Monaco announces it has reached agreement with Partizan Belgrade for the transfer of Strahinja Pavlovic during the winter transfer window.

"This agreement provides for the loan of the young Serbia Under-21 international defender to Partizan Belgrade until June 2020."

Celtic, Lazio, Juventus and Ajax were among the clubs to have been linked with Pavlovic in recent months.

In Monaco, he joins a club with a reputation for nurturing young talent and providing a stepping stone to a higher level.

Are we about to see a Jose Mourinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic reunion?

Mourinho and Ibrahimovic worked together at Inter, before the Portuguese manager brought the Swedish star to Manchester United in 2016.

Now, new Tottenham boss Mourinho is reportedly eyeing the 38-year-old striker.

 

TOP STORY – MOURINHO TARGETING IBRA

Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho is poised to make a move for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, according to the Telegraph.

Ibrahimovic is on the lookout for a new club after opting to leave MLS outfit LA Galaxy following two seasons in the United States.

The 38-year-old has been linked to AC Milan, Bologna, Napoli, Manchester United and Australian team Perth Glory; however, Mourinho reportedly wants to reunite with Ibrahimovic at Tottenham.

 

ROUND-UP

- Spanish newspaper Sport reports a close friend of Flamengo coach Jorge Jesus predicting he will get the Barcelona job if his side win Saturday's Copa Libertadores final against River Plate, who are led by another reputed Catalan target in Marcelo Gallardo. Ernesto Valverde is under pressure at the LaLiga champions.

Real Madrid are set to open talks with star striker Karim Benzema over a new contract, Marca reports. The 31-year-old's current deal expires in 2021.

- Out-of-favour Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic is wanted by LaLiga's Atletico Madrid, according to ESPN FC. Matic has struggled for game time under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with AC Milan and Inter also interested.

- With Tottenham reportedly looking to hijack AC Milan's pursuit of Ibrahimovic, Sky Sport Italia says the Rossoneri are rivalling Inter and Borussia Dortmund for Chelsea forward Olivier Giroud.

- The Daily Mail reports that Leicester City have opened talks with James Maddison over a new contract. The 22-year-old England international has been heavily linked to Manchester United.

- Partizan Belgrade sensation Strahinja Pavlovic is on the verge of joining Ligue 1 outfit Monaco. Sportski Zurnal says the 18-year-old defender has undergone a medical ahead of a €10million transfer plus add-ons.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed Scott McTominay suffered an ankle injury in Manchester United's win over Partizan Belgrade, while he played down concerns over Harry Maguire.

United booked their spot in the Europa League last 32 thanks to Thursday's 3-0 win, which came thanks to goals from Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford.

McTominay came off during the second half of the victory due to an ankle injury, while Maguire was also a worry.

But while he has fewer worries about Maguire, United manager Solskjaer confirmed some concerns surrounding McTominay.

"I think Harry will be okay. He finished the game anyway," he told MUTV.

"Scott is more of a concern, so let's see how he recovers in the next few days.

"He said he was going to be okay out on the pitch and he said 'I'll be fine'. He's tough, but he had to come off.

"I hope he'll recover for Sunday, but I don't know. Inside of his ankle. I think he went over on his ankle."

Sitting 10th in the Premier League table, United host Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday.

The win over Partizan gave Solskjaer's men a boost and the performance of his young attack featuring Greenwood, Rashford and Martial was particularly pleasing for the manager.

"The reason we put the three of them together is that we know they are a dangerous trio, with players behind them who can provide chances," he said.

"Well done to Mason for a very, very calm finish. He was composed and waited for the keeper. The second one was from Anthony and was probably the skill of the night.

"Then it was great to see Marcus finishing with his left foot. He will get into those positions quite often in a game. For him to go on the outside, on his left, it is not great for defenders to see.

"It is good for us because he can go inside on his right and then finish with his left."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has acknowledged Manchester United must now take their Europa League form into the Premier League after his side dismantled Partizan Belgrade 3-0 at Old Trafford.

Goals from Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford - starting together for the first time - paved the way for a routine win on Thursday, as United ensured their progression from Group L with two games to spare.

Scott McTominay's late injury was the only blemish, though Solskjaer was frustrated by some wasteful finishing early on.

However, with a clean sheet and three well-taken goals, Solskjaer has now demanded his side, who sit 10th in the Premier League with just three wins so far, show improvement domestically.

"That's the foundation, it's a platform to perform from," Solskjaer told beIN SPORTS.

"We know we've worked on defending this year and have been solid, we just want to see more of this in the Premier League. Score goals, create chances and see smiles on the players' faces.

"Parts of the game were really good, parts of the performance were really high quality.

"You want to see five or six or seven [goals] but at times I think maybe some players started thinking of Sunday, started to recover a bit and we were a bit sloppy at the end but at times we looked really dangerous.

"First 10 or 15 minutes we should have buried the game and it should have been over by then, but we managed to get the goals and got the clean sheet which is always important for confidence for the goalkeeper and back four. Now we can just look forward to Sunday.

"Very happy [with qualifying]. It means in the last two games we can give game time to other players that need it, some players will come back from injury, so we'll use them to of course try to win the group, but it makes me think about resting a few anyway."

Rashford missed several gilt-edged chances in the first half but came up with a superb finish shortly after the break to put the result beyond doubt and, after United's dismal defeat at Bournemouth last time out, the England forward was delighted the side bounced straight back.

"A good performance which is the main thing, very happy, we take the game as a big positive so we move on and improve," Rashford told BT Sport.

"It's something we've been focusing on, as the forward players. Hopefully today was just the start of it and we can keep improving and be more natural.

"That's the main thing, trying to help each other score and score goals ourselves. We have a big emphasis on that and at the same time try to work for the team then it's a big positive.

"The main thing when you lose a game is you want to win the next one, that's the main thing as a player. It's not nice to lose but it feels very nice to win, to put it right and today we managed to do that."

Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford were on target as Manchester United ensured their place in the Europa League knockout stages with a convincing 3-0 win over Partizan Belgrade.

Knowing a win would be enough to see them through - courtesy of a better head-to-head record against Partizan in Group L - United wasted little time in asserting their authority, with Mason Greenwood capping a dominant start in the 21st minute.

Martial added a magnificent second soon after, with Rashford, who had been wasteful in the first half, making it 3-0 shortly after the restart as United cruised into the round of 32 with two matches to spare.

Martial and Partizan's Umar Sadiq both had goals disallowed for offside in the opening five minutes, before Rashford drilled wide from 10 yards out.

Rashford had another opportunity three minutes later, only for Vladimir Stojkovic to rush out and deny the England forward, but Greenwood made no such mistake.

Having benefitted from some dreadful Partizan marking, Greenwood kept his cool to slot beyond Stojkovic after setting himself from Rashford's neat pass.

United were two ahead just after the half hour - Martial prodding in an excellent finish after driving through Partizan's defence with some sublime footwork.

Rashford finally found his shooting boots after the restart, slamming home a brilliant first-time finish from Ashley Young's cushioned touch.

Young almost went from provider to scorer with a terrific free-kick moments later, his strike glancing the side netting before Fred drew a fine stop out of Stojkovic.

A fine night for United was blemished with 15 minutes remaining - Scott McTominay forced off through injury - but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side will be able to reflect on a job well done at Old Trafford.

 

What does it mean? United finally making life easier for themselves

It has been a hard slog of a campaign so far for Solskjaer, whose side had appeared to turn a corner prior to their defeat at Bournemouth last time out. 

However, with progression in this competition secured, United can at least now switch their full focus to correcting their dismal league form.

United's vibrant attack come good

It was an ideal night for United's strikers, with all three of them getting in on the act. While starting both of his first-choice forwards in the form of Rashford and Martial may have been a risk, it paid off for Solskjaer, while Greenwood - who became the youngest player to score and assist in a single European game for the Red Devils - continued his impressive start to life in United's first team.

McTominay's fitness a cause for concern

McTominay has been one of United's most consistent performers so far this term, but after a robust challenge from Aleksandar Scekic, the Scotland international was unable to continue and could now be a doubt for Sunday's clash with Brighton and Hove Albion.

What's next?

United host Brighton the Premier League on Sunday, while Partizan are in action against Indija in the Serbian top flight.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed "it won't be too long" before Paul Pogba is available again as the France international nears a return from his ankle injury.

World Cup winner Pogba has missed United's past seven games with an injury he suffered back in September.

The France midfielder said last week that he would need another "two weeks of rehabilitation" after the plaster comes off his leg.

However, the timeframe given by Solskjaer would still see Pogba miss the Premier League trip to Sheffield United and the Europa League visit to Astana at the end of November.

"I think he said it himself, didn't he?" Solskjaer told reporters at a news conference on Thursday.

"He won't be too long before he's out of his cast, he's going to work through the international break and hopefully we'll have him back in early December."

Pogba will definitely be absent for Thursday's Europa League game against Partizan Belgrade, a fixture that defender Victor Lindelof will also miss.

The centre-back suffered a back injury against Chelsea in the EFL Cup last week and although he completed 90 minutes against Bournemouth on Saturday, Solskjaer has ruled Lindelof out of Thursday's fixture at Old Trafford.

"He won't be fit for tomorrow, no," the Norwegian added.

"He got a knock against Chelsea and he didn't come through the game against Bournemouth without the reaction, so he'll be out tomorrow."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is hopeful Manchester United will see an upturn in form for having Anthony Martial back fit and firing.

Martial had been out for almost two months with a thigh strain before returning as a substitute in the Premier League draw against Liverpool last week.

The France forward then started and scored the only goal of the game as United defeated Partizan Belgrade in the Europa League on Thursday.

That was United's first away win in 12 attempts, with a miserable run of form seeing them 14th heading in the league heading into this weekend and a trip to Norwich City.

But Solskjaer believes Martial can influence an extended change in United's fortunes, having been brought off on the hour-mark in Serbia to be fresh in time for Sunday.

"We've not created as many [chances] as we'd have liked and not scored as many as we'd have liked," Solskjaer said.

"Now Anthony is back, he got a goal, and I'm sure we'll see us improve as a team with Anthony in the side. He does give us something different."

He added: "I hope we're going to stop [Norwich] because it's always going to be difficult down at Carrow Road but we're ready for it now. We've got some players back.

"I managed to take Aaron [Wan-Bissaka] and Anthony off after 60 minutes as they were out a long time. Hopefully, it will be a fresh team because we need to be up at our best to have a chance."

United are still missing a number of star men, however, including Paul Pogba, who Solskjaer earlier ruled out of the Norwich match.

"We're working very hard to get them fit and, hopefully, we can get them back soon," he said. "I'm not going to put a deadline on it but it won't be long, hopefully."

Meanwhile, the side's fitness issues have seen United switch to a back three for their past two matches.

Despite being forced into the change, Solskjaer feels the new formation has suited his players well, explaining: "I think injuries have made us get into the position where the performances didn't come and we had fit centre-backs, good centre-backs and quality centre-backs.

"It just made it easier to go to a back three against Liverpool and again in Serbia.

"We've got Jesse [Lingard] back, who can play in a three in midfield, and the players who played for us on Thursday, for example, Sergio [Romero] played in a World Cup final, Marcos Rojo played in a back three in a World Cup final and [Phil Jones] and Harry [Maguire] played in a semi-final. Jesse played in his position.

"It's just injuries that have made us go into this position but it's working quite well."

Harry Maguire was honoured to captain Manchester United for the first time in their 1-0 Europa League win over Partizan Belgrade.

The £80million defender was given the armband for Thursday's clash in the absence of Ashley Young and back-up skipper David de Gea.

Anthony Martial's penalty just before half-time was enough for United to pick up their first away win in 12 matches in all competitions, moving them top of Group L.

United were once again far from convincing on their travels, but Maguire was pleased to come away with a third successive Europa League clean sheet on what was a personal occasion to remember.

"It's a massive honour to lead the team out, especially such a big club like United," he told BT Sport. "I'm really proud, but more importantly I'm happy we got the clean sheet and the three points. 

"It was really important to get the away win - it's been a long time coming. We weren't at our best and it was scrappy at times, but we always knew our first away win would be one we had to grind out."

A clip of Maguire apparently forgetting his pre-match duties went viral, as the stand-in captain left Vladimir Stojkovic waiting, but he later laughed off the blunder on Twitter.

"Last time I did this, you did the coin toss in the centre circle #LetMeOff," Maguire posted, accompanied by a laughing face emoji.

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer handed a full debut to James Garner and also started with fellow academy product Brandon Williams at left-wing-back.

Centre-back Phil Jones, one of the more experienced players on the field for United at 27 years old, was full of praise for the younger members of United's squad.

"I thought the pair of them were absolutely terrific," he said. 

"It's a hostile environment and the pitch wasn't the best - the pair of them can be really proud of themselves. They were a big reason why we came away with a clean sheet."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hailed Brandon Williams as "exceptional" after Manchester United's Europa League win at Partizan Belgrade, but he acknowledged the side's overall display was far from convincing.

Anthony Martial converted a 43rd-minute penalty, won by teenage wing-back Williams, as United prevailed 1-0 to end an 11-match winless away run stretching back to March.

The Red Devils now hold seven points from three games in Group L and they have yet to concede a goal in the Europa League this season.

Yet Martial's penalty was United's only shot on target in Belgrade and they offered virtually nothing in an attacking sense after the interval as Partizan pushed for an equaliser.

"We got a result, but of course the performance wasn't what we really hoped for," Solskjaer, who made seven changes to the team that drew 1-1 with Premier League leaders Liverpool on Sunday, told BT Sport.

"It would have been nice to have it in a more assertive way. It was won by loads of good defending in the box, but we let them come to our box too easy.

"[There were] some great blocks, some good defending in the box, another clean sheet in the tournament, which is positive, and Brandon was absolutely exceptional."

In an interview with MUTV, Solskjaer added: "In the second half, they [Partizan] made us defend too deep. I'm not happy with the defending at the front.

"That's been one of our fortes and strengths this season, [but] I thought that was non-existent second half and that needs sorting out because we don't want to be a team that is just defending inside our box."

Teenager Williams earned United's spot-kick when he surged past Nemanja Miletic and was then brought down by the Partizan full-back's desperate challenge.

However, the hosts felt they should have had a penalty of their own in the second period when a header from Miletic appeared to strike Williams on the arm, sparking furious protests from the former that resulted in a yellow card.

Williams was one of two teenagers in United's XI, with James Garner handed a first start in midfield.

"I thought Jimmy grew into the game, better and better. We gave him some difficult passes in the first half, in difficult circumstances, but he handled it well," said Solskjaer.

"Brandon, for me, was the man of the match. He was absolutely excellent and I'm so pleased."

Manchester United finally enjoyed away-day success as Anthony Martial's 43rd-minute penalty earned an unconvincing 1-0 win over Partizan Belgrade, lifting Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men to the top of Group L in the Europa League.

Prior to Thursday's contest in Serbia, United had gone 11 matches without an away win in all competitions - their worst such run in 40 years - since beating Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League back in March.

Yet the Red Devils' travelling support were finally given reason to celebrate again as a spot-kick from Martial - making his first start since August 24 following injury - was complemented by the club's third clean sheet in as many Europa League matches this term.

United's overall performance was far from impressive and a lack of creativity was again apparent as a side showing seven changes from Sunday's encouraging 1-1 draw with Liverpool failed to muster a single shot on target besides Martial's penalty.

However, the result will at least please Solskjaer as the 2016-17 Europa League winners are firmly on course to reach the knockout stages having claimed seven points from three games.

The only clear-cut chance of a turgid opening half-hour, in which United dominated possession, saw Scott McTominay wastefully head wide at the far post from Juan Mata's inviting 15th-minute free-kick.

A brief spell of Partizan pressure heralded a significant rise in entertainment value, with the fit-again Jesse Lingard and Umar Sadiq each striking the post in quick succession.

Martial then calmly sent Vladimir Stojkovic the wrong way from 12 yards, after Brandon Williams' surging run into the hosts' box had drawn a clear foul from Nemanja Miletic.

United were pegged back for much of the second half, though, and had to survive a succession of penalty appeals from Partizan, the most convincing arriving in the 67th minute when Miletic's back-post header appeared to strike the arm of Williams.

A furious Miletic was booked for his protests after the referee refused to point to the spot and the hosts' pressure continued to go unrewarded, with Sergio Romero saving sharply from Takuma Asano late on.

Harry Maguire is hopeful Manchester United will not have to experience a repeat of the "sickening" racist abuse that marred England's trip to Bulgaria when they visit Partizan Belgrade on Thursday.

United face Savo Milosevic's side in the Europa League after the Serbian outfit were forced to play their previous two UEFA home matches behind closed doors following "racist behaviour of supporters" when they hosted Yeni Malatyaspor in the third qualifying round.

The Group L game also follows Serbia's national team being hit with a two-game stadium ban – one suspended for 12 months – after a similar incident against Portugal in September.

Maguire played in England's 6-0 win over Bulgaria in Euro 2020 qualifying earlier this month, which was twice stopped during the first half after visiting players were subjected to racist chants.

Those stoppages formed part of UEFA's three-step protocol – whereby a match is first paused, then suspended for a period, before ultimately being abandoned on the third instance of racist abuse – but Maguire is confident the match in Belgrade will pass without any major incidents.

"We will trust UEFA to follow their protocol," he told a media conference. "Sofia was sickening and something I don't want to be part of again.

"We are confident tomorrow will be a positive atmosphere. If something does go off, we will follow the three-step protocol."

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer echoed Maguire's sentiments and has faith that UEFA will implement their protocol should racist abuse be heard.

"In the aftermath of what happened in Bulgaria, we had a meeting with the boys and we have gone through the protocol," he said.

"I believe in the good of people and the atmosphere will be fantastic. We trust UEFA and hopefully it will be a celebration of good football."

Solskjaer also reiterated United's stance on clamping down on racist incidents involving their own supporters after one was alleged to have engaged in abuse during Sunday's 1-1 draw with Liverpool.

"I'm happy the club have identified whatever you want to call him and it's something we feel strongly about," he added. "We will stamp down as much as we can."

Paul Pogba will not be fit to face Norwich City on Sunday but David de Gea should be able to make the trip to Carrow Road, according to Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

United are in Serbia ahead of a Europa League clash with Partizan Belgrade, though neither Pogba nor De Gea are in the travelling party.

Pogba last featured at the end of September having sustained a foot injury, while De Gea has recently struggled with a groin strain.

De Gea was able to take his place in United's starting XI on Sunday in the 1-1 draw with Liverpool despite appearing to be a doubt after hurting himself on international duty.

Solskjaer is unwilling to risk the Spaniard in Belgrade, with youngster Matej Kovar joining Sergio Romero and Lee Grant as the three goalkeepers, while Pogba remains sidelined even for the weekend journey to Norfolk.

"De Gea will be ready for Sunday but we didn’t take a risk with him travelling here," Solskjaer told reporters on Wednesday.

"Paul? No," Solskjaer later added when asked if Pogba could feature against Norwich.

United head into Thursday's game at Partizan second to them in Group L by virtue of scoring fewer goals.

They have not won away from home in any competition since beating Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes in March.

Savo Milosevic has no doubts Partizan Belgrade's Europa League clash with Manchester United will be a "celebration of football" after a two-match stadium ban for racist behaviour.

A bumper crowd is expected for the Group L match against the Red Devils, with Partizan forced to play their previous two UEFA home matches behind closed doors following "racist behaviour of supporters" when they hosted Yeni Malatyaspor in the third qualifying round.

The fixture comes in the wake of Serbia's national team being hit with a two-game stadium ban, albeit one is suspended for 12 months, following a similar incident during a Euro 2020 qualifying defeat to Portugal in September.

United stars Marcus Rashford and Harry Maguire also played in England's 6-0 win at Bulgaria, which was marred by high-profile incidents of racism from home supporters in Sofia.

Partizan coach Milosevic, though, does not expect there to be any issues for Thursday's match.

Speaking at a media conference, he said: "First of all, I expect everything to be fair and in the spirit of the sport.

"We know of our supporters, we are aware of the importance of the game and we are also aware of the problems we have had in the past.

"But tomorrow [Thursday] will once again be a celebration of football, so I don't expect any problems in that regard.

"We all know how important the support from the home fans can be."

Milosevic played against the great United sides of the 1990s having represented Aston Villa between 1995 and 1998.

The Red Devils class of today is languishing in 14th after nine games in the Premier League this term, but Milosevic is backing United to challenge at the top again in the future.

"It's impossible for one club to be always on the top level," he added.

"In my epoch, United were one of the best teams in the world with Alex Ferguson. They practically won everything possible and it's difficult to stay on that level always.

"But Manchester United is definitely in the top three biggest clubs in the world, even today.

"They have some difficulties, but it is also normal to have these difficulties, especially after the epoch of one man [Ferguson] who was there for more than 30 years [26 years]. It's difficult to find someone similar.

"It's still one of the biggest teams in England, in Europe and they definitely possess quality and I am certain that in the future, all of Europe will see how good they are.

"They have some extraordinary young players and it's a question of time for them to become key players and to lead United forward."

Page 1 of 2
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.