FK Partizan clinched the Prva savezna liga title with a 4-0 home win against FK Vojvodina last night as they cemented their 13-point lead over FK Crvena Zvezda with only four games remaining.
Vukic hat-trick the key
Partizan, coached by FIFA World Cup-winning German captain Lothar Matthäus, retained their crown in style with a hat-trick from Serbo-Montenegrin international midfield player Zvonimir Vukic. He took his season's tally to 20 goals as he struck in the 21st, 72nd and 90th minutes, with Nigerian international defender Taribo West also on target.
'This title is special'
Matthäus only took over at Partizan in December, replacing fans' icon Ljubiša Tumbakovic, who led the club to six championships and three Yugoslav Cup in his decade at the helm. Matthäus said last night: "
I have won a lot of trophies in my life and all of them are important to me, but this title is special since it is my first trophy as a coach. This country deserves a team in the [UEFA] Champions League and we will try to achieve that goal."
Champions League campaign
His team will begin their 2003/04 Champions League campaign in the second qualifying round as they seek to make the group stage for the first time. This season, after beating Hammarby at that stage, Partizan were drawn against FC Bayern München, losing 6-1 on aggregate.
UEFA Cup place
Crvena Zvezda remain on course for a UEFA Cup place following a 5-1 victory against FK Obilic. Dragan Mladenovic, Boško Jankovic and Igor Pejovic gave them a 3-0 lead before Mihajlo Pjanovic's two late goals secured victory either side of Nikola Vujoševic's consolation.
Third-placed OFK Beograd are eight points behind Crvena Zvezda after winning 2-1 against struggling FK Zemun. Eleventh-placed Zemun took the lead in the 63rd minute through Srdjan Doić, but OFK struck back with a double from Vanja Grubač to claim victory.
Pressure kept on
FK Železnik kept the pressure on OFK with a 3-2 win against FK Hajduk Kula, while FK Sutjeska defeated relegated FK Radnicki Niš 2-1. FK Cukaricki look set to join Niš in the second tier after a 2-1 loss to FK Obrenovac, who moved four points clear of the relegation zone.
Rad have hope
Elsewhere, FK Zeta secured an exciting 6-3 victory against relegated FK Mogren, while FK Rad gave themselves hope of survival by beating another demoted team, FK Rudar Pljevlja, 1-0. FK Sartid are three points ahead of Rad after a 0-0 draw with FK Javor Ivanjica. Javor need ten points from their last four games to have any hope of escaping the expanded relegation zone, with the league reduced from 18 to 16 clubs next season.
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