Miladin Stevanović’s facial expression says more than every match review.
(And yes, the young right back debuted in the senior team last night.)
By the way, nobody was sure if the match could have been played yesterday. It was raining heavily in Belgrade, water covered the grass of Partizan Stadion. The match was about to start soon, and the staff was still cleaning the field from water. Finally, they brought the decision to play the match.
In the beginning it was all great. Or even wonderful. In the very first minute Lazović almost said "hi, what’s up" to goalkeeper Zengin, he just shot the ball a bit too high.
The first approx. 10 minutes were spent with enormous pace, endurance and enthusiasm by Partizan. In the 3rd minute we got a free kick (before that Škuletić fell on the ground). Drinčić stood behind the ball, about 20 metres from the goal line, but the shot made a twist and flew out of the field above the goalpost.
They kept on running, dribbling, passing the ball to each other. Not much later Drinčić made a marvellous tackle, sliding in for the ball on the ground, somewhere near Partizan’s penalty area, then Ćirković blocked a Turkish player in the air.
Škuletić had an amazing solo, he ran up fast on Besiktas’s half, with only 1 (one) defender running desperately behind him, he was just tackled inside the opponent’s penalty area.
The 11th minute brought some slight view that seemed like Besiktas was trying, but at this point nobody suspected anything. Yet two minutes later Lukač had such a huge save that people from the other side of Voždovac ran there to gaze and worship. The ball dropped out, corner, Partizan-defenders headed it out and we were about to make a counter-attack when someone pushed Lazović to the ground. We got a free kick, but the pace was over.
In the 16th minute Lukač saved again great. At this point Partizan started to clog together a bit on their half. Turks were coming and coming, like back then in the battle of Kosovo...
Kavlak kicked a distant shot to Partizan’s goal. The ball dropped into the net as if it was a ripe pear.
What is more, two minutes later Besiktas built up another hair-raising attack. They missed, but only by unluck (it was their unluck, not ours). The Turkish player burst into Partizan’s penalty area, defenders watched him in shock, finally the ball was somehow pushed to corner.
Some time around the 20th minute Partizan could step over the half-line again. Until then they were stuck at their own half. We got a free kick in the 21st minute. Again Drinčić stood behind the ball, but the shot flew out of the field above the goalpost. A minute later Lazović was pushed to the ground somewhere around the half line, but nothing happened, the referee didn’t whistle...
For sure he was deaf. Or blind. Or both.
...naive Average Fan thought we might get a free kick at least, but no...
Then Partizan started a counter-attack, Živković got the ball, but Turks took it away from him. They were about to attack back, but Stanković made a great slip-in tackle this time.
Around the 25th minute Partizan had some tryings. First Drinčić kicked the ball to Besiktas’s goal line, but the shot was too distant and weak. Two minutes later Škuletić shot, but the goalkeeper caught the ball. In the 28th minute Pantić had a big solo, he ran through Besiktas’s half and passed the ball to Volkov, but Turkish defenders blocked the action.
A few seconds later was this "heart attack and stroke"-alike Besiktas chance, when the fan is screaming "JESUSGOODLORDANDALLSAINTSINTHEHEAVENS", laying on the floor for long moments, gasping for breath, crawling the carpet. Tore grabbed the ball and made a huge shot, the ball hit the right goalpost’s bottom and dropped back on the field. It was so tough that Average Fan already saw the ball (with mind’s eye) in the net... But Lukač was shouting to the others, waving them to go up, while making a goal-kick.
Živković was knocked to the ground in the 31st minute, just a few metres from the Turkish penalty area. Free kick, Drinčić behind the ball, HUGE shot, the goalkeeper saved. Two minutes later Škuletić tried again, then in the 36th minute again he ran up with the ball and passed it to Živković with a very good movement. The midfielder shot - right into the goalkeeper.
Then again Partizan’s defense line got into the spotlight... Branko Ilić made a great block...
The referee wasn’t really in shape. In the 41st minute Škuletić was knocked out (it wasn’t the first time...) during a Partizan attack, but nothing happened, there were no consequences, on the contrary, Besiktas got a goal-kick. Then a few moments later Volkov just held the Turkish striker back and immediately got a yellow card.
At the very last minute of the first half it was 0:2. Demba Ba got the ball at the left side of the penalty area and just dropped it into the ball near Lukač, who desperately ran out trying to block him.
It was high time for a pause...
In the half time Grupa JNA’s new CD was playing from the speakers. It made a fantastic atmosphere, people were dancing in the tribunes to the tunes of "Dobro pamtim sve". The music was turned off long ago, both teams were out in the field kicking the ball (sometimes each other, too), but the fans were still singing loud "Dobro pamtim sveeee, srečno bio jeeeee, ooooo, svud sam iš’o da bih njega bodrioooooooo".
Besiktas started the second half with an attack, but Lukač was also at his place. The referee kept up his "low-altitude flying"
to say the least
giving a free kick to Besiktas in the middle of a Partizan attack. But when Lazović was stopped with a bodycheck by a Turkish defender, he stayed silent (he was kind enough to whistle when the opponent almost sat on the Partizan-player’s head).
The 52nd minute brought the third Turkish goal.
...as well as the collapse of the stream. And mine, too. I think, I used some phrases of my mother tongue that were never ever used before. Maybe I should go to the Academy of Sciences, saying hey guys, what do you think, neology and stuff, there you are, we must keep up with the times and such things. Of course, at such moments nobody cares about the serious scientists of the Academy, Average Fan is desperately searching for a working stream while screaming and swearing.
And when Average Fan finds one, it's already 0.4.
Wreckage. Tears. (In secret.)
It was around the 57th minute when I could join back. Škuletić was just getting a pass, the striker ran up fast to the opponent’s goal line, then passed the ball with a marvellous oxford dribble - but nobody was there to get it, out of Turkish defenders. Three minutes later again he was about to attack, Živković passed him a ball with a great movement, just everyone’s favourite Montenegrin striker was checkmated by Turkish defenders.
The closeup clearly showed a very tired and distressed expression on Škuletić’s face.
The game become slower and fragmented. The Turkish team was totally satisfied with the result, as for Partizan, the players seemed to be winded. Yet Grave Diggers made a wonderful atmosphere. It felt so good listening to them, while the players were wrestling on the wet (water polo)field in the rain.
The 73rd minute brought a weak try by Besiktas. The ball was dropping here and there, finally Lukač caught it. A minute later the referee was sure Pantić played handball inside the opponent’s penalty area, but the slow motion replay didn’t made it certain (me neither). Another minute later, when Branko Ilić tackled the opponent, a yellow card was rubbed under his nose immediately. I swear I have no idea why. (It was followed by a free kick, Lukač punched it to corner.)
All that was left was a Turkish player playing the Dying Swan in the 82nd minute near Partizan’s penalty area. The referee was fascinated by this art performance and gave him a free kick. (Thankfully they missed it.) A minute later Ninković was tackled with a classic bodycheck, maybe the midfielder should transfer to Partizan's ice hockey team... No consequences again, but when Marković tackled and saved with a huge (and self-sacrificing) slip-in, the referee immediately whistled.
Nothing happened in the last few minutes. Grave Diggers chanting loud "Dobro pamtim sve" even after the final whistle.
- The opponent was stronger than us - said Petar Škuletić after the match. - I don’t even remember when it was the last time the guest team was so dominant in our stadium.
Milan Lukač’s words were sobering.
- It is tough to say anything after such a loss. Thank you to all fans for coming to the match. Our reality is SuperLiga, we cannot reach any further. We must very quickly forget this match and focus on the upcoming against Jagodina.
- The opponent was much better - admitted Vojislav Stanković. - We tried to make their deficiences to our own benefit, but we failed. They deserved this victory. We got very stupid goals.
At the other side players were (understandably) happy with the result as well as fascinated by Partizan-fans.
- Partizan is a good team, unfortunately they are still very young and inexperienced - said Senegalese striker Demba Ba. - I’m happy for our win. The atmosphere was fantastic, Partizan has got amazing fans.
- We were talking about this in the locker-room - nodded Atiba Hutchinson. - Every team’s dream is to have such fans. These guys were singing and chanting for their players even after such a defeat.
Location: Partizan Stadion
Number of spectators: 12 000
Referee: Paolo Silvio Mazzoleni (assistant: Riccardo di Fiore, Matteo Passeri - 4th assistant: Alessandro Giallatini - additional assistants: Marco Guida, Andrea Gervasoni) - ITA
FK Partizan: Lukač - Stevanović, Ćirković, Volkov - B. Ilić, Stanković - A. Živković (Grbić, 67.), Lazović (Ninković 61.), Drinčić (Marković, 61.), Pantić - Škuletić
Head coach: Marko Nikolić
Besiktas: Zengin - Uysal, Franco, Sivok, Ramon - Kavlak, Tore (Koyunlu, 64.), Ozyakup (Koybasi, 78.) - Hutchinson, Sahan, Ba (Tosun, 69.)
Head coach: Slaven Bilić
Goal scorers: Kavlak (18.), Ba (45.), Ozyakup (52.), Tore (54.)
Yellow cards: Sahan (14.), Ramon (31.), Volkov (42.), B. Ilić (75.)
(unmarked photos: Facebook/Fudbalski klub Partizan)