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Red Star, Partizan reach Serbian Cup quarter-finals

By Zoran Milosavljevic

BELGRADE (Reuters) - Belgrade's big two clubs Red Star and Partizan warmed up for a potentially explosive league derby with emphatic wins over rivals in the Serbian cup second round on Wednesday.

Red Star beat Radnicki Kragujevac 3-0 at home while champions and league leaders Partizan, who visit their bitter city foes on Saturday, strolled to a 3-0 win at Radnicki Nis thanks to two superb goals from talented forward Nikola Ninkovic.

"We were always aware of Ninkovic's potential and that's why we were patient and put up with his occasional volatile outbursts of temper on the pitch," Partizan coach Vuk Rasovic told reporters after the 18-year-old shone in southern Serbia.

"We were unlucky in our last two home draws in the league but this afternoon we were aggressive and controlled the match after scoring early."

Midfielder Predrag Luka fired Partizan ahead before Ninkovic volleyed the second from 20 meters following a deft first touch and then sealed the rout with a curling shot that went in off the post.

Red Star coach Slavisa Stojanovic has been battling to keep his job after a string of patchy performances and was relieved to see his inconsistent side take an early lead when captain Nenad Milijas converted a penalty after Montenegro forward Filip Kasalica was fouled.

Left back Nikola Mijailovic drilled in the second after he was set up by Nigerian striker Abiola Dauda and former Partizan defender Jovan Krneta headed in a corner for his first goal in a Red Star shirt.

"It was a good performance, especially from lads who stepped in to replace first-choice players nursing niggling injuries and we hope to be at full strength in the derby," Stojanovic told Arenasport television.

(The story was refiled to delete reference to holders in paragraph two)

(Editing by Toby Davis)