Grant celebrates as Partizan win Serbian league title

* Partizan win 24th league title

* Grant happy with flurry of goals

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By Zoran Milosavljevic

BELGRADE, April 29 (Reuters) - Partizan Belgrade secured their 24th league title and fifth in a row with Sunday's 4-0 win at Borac Cacak, finally giving coach Avram Grant success after the Israeli suffered a series of setbacks in England.

The result gave Partizan an unassailable 12-point lead over traditional city rivals Red Star, who they meet at home on Saturday in a derby which is likely to draw a full house despite amounting to a dead rubber.

Midfielder Sasa Markovic sent Partizan on their way with a long-range effort in the first half before Bulgaria defender Ivan Ivanov and a late brace from Senegalese striker Lamine Diarra sealed matters.

Grant, who took over in January, failed to save either Portsmouth or West Ham United from Premier League relegation in successive seasons after being sacked by Chelsea having lost the 2008 Champions League final to Manchester United.

This time a 10th league win in a row helped him finally grab a trophy for the first season since sealing the Israeli title with Maccabi Haifa in 2002.

"It's a great feeling to win the title with three games to spare and we have reaped the rewards of playing attacking and free-scoring football throughout the campaign," the 57-year old told reporters.

"It may have looked easy from the terraces but Borac fought well and the score doesn't do them justice."

Partizan are one league title short of equalling Red Star's record but Grant's priority next season will be to build a team capable of reaching the Champions League group stages via the qualifiers.

The board made that his target when the former Israel boss was appointed.

With the club's limited budget and likely departures of several key players, including the prolific Diarra, playmaker Zvonimir Vukic and central defender Nemanja Rnic, it may turn out to be a tall order.

"Straight after the derby with Red Star, we have to focus on the upcoming challenge of qualifying for the Champions League because the title is in the bag, but I don't know if I will still be here," said Rnic.

"It is time to celebrate now and enjoy ourselves because we won the title rather emphatically, having topped the standings throughout the campaign."

Partizan beat Red Star 2-0 away in the reverse fixture in October, when they were managed by Aleksandar Stanojevic, but lost both legs of the cup semi-final to their neighbours by the same score after Grant took over. (Editing by Mark Meadows)


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