Both Zvezda and Partizan have made it into the Europa League! A historical night for Serbia’s league football that is slowly restoring faith in the nation’s favorite sport.
On home turf, Crvena zvezda beat Krasnodar. After months of seeing empty seats, the Rajko Mitić Stadium was packed.
Belgrade’s Red and Whites scored early (7′) thanks to the fast Nemanja Radonjić. As the second half was kicking off, so was Kanga, whose goal for a 2:0 advantage will surely be played over and over again.
As the home crowd expected things to end here, the German ref was seeing things differently. A penalty for Krasnodar, decreasing Zvezda’s advantage (2:1) was followed by a series of free kicks and yellow cards against the host during the 6 minutes long stoppage time.
But after 107 minutes, Crvena zvezda got its wish. Ending a decade long absence from major European championships. The fairly young and strongly disputed team lead by coach Vladan Milojević will be playing Europa League.
They are followed by Partizan who made their comeback into the Europa League earlier in the night with a strong win.
Partizan ended their first leg in Belgrade by an uneventful 0:0. They were left to finish the job on away grounds, which was achieved through a routine 0:4.
Despite the Black and Whites playing against their former coach Marko Nikolić the match in Hungary started off well. Tawamba scored in min. 6 followed by Suma and Đurđević for a 3:0 advantage.
The cherry on top was handed by Uroš Đurđević, who scored the final goal, giving both the team and the fans a win they have been waiting for years.
Both of these victories represent a compensation to the fans for all of the heartbreak and long seasons of disappointment. In a sport that has been giving Serbia more downs than ups, this night almost makes it all worth while.
In order to love football here, you need an insane amount of dedication, nerves of steel and an ability to forget.
And yet, some nights are to be remembered. Such as the one where Serbia has not one, but two teams fighting in the Europa League. A possible sign of better days and some hope for even the biggest of cynics.