Montenegro-Russia match abandoned after goalkeeper hit by flare

Montenegro’s European Championship qualifier against Russia was abandoned in the 67th minute last night as the players brawled and objects were thrown from the stands.

The match in Podgorica had earlier been suspended for approximately 30 minutes after Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev was struck by a lit flare thrown from the crowd within a minute of kick-off.

Play resumed but trouble erupted between the players in the second half after Russia’s Roman Shirokov missed a penalty with the score 0-0, and with further objects coming from the stands both teams left the field with German referee Deniz Aytekin calling the game off.

Akinfeev, who appeared to be hit in the back of the head, fell immediately to the ground and was carried off the pitch to be taken to a local hospital.

The 28-year-old was reportedly conscious but wearing a neck brace as a precaution.

“The UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying match between Montenegro and Russia was abandoned in the 67th minute following crowd disturbances at the Gradski Stadion in Podgorica,” read a UEFA statement.

“In the first minute of the Group G fixture, Russia goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev appeared to be struck by an object thrown from the crowd. He was subsequently carried off the field on a stretcher and the referee took the players off for a first time.

Montenegro-Russia match abandoned after goalkeeper hit by flare

“Play resumed after a 33-minute delay and there was no score at half-time. The start of the second half was delayed by 18 minutes due to further disturbances and the match was abandoned in the 67th minute, shortly after Russia’s Roman Shirokov had a penalty saved by Vukasin Poleksic.

“UEFA will wait to receive reports from the delegate and referee to open disciplinary proceedings.”

It is not clear yet whether Russia will be awarded a victory.

Russia and Montenegro are currently third and fourth respectively in Group G, both on five points.

UEFA rules state: “If the referee decides to abandon the match, for example because the field is not fit for play, the remaining match time must be played either the next day or on another date set by the UEFA administration, unless the case is referred to the UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body.”

It is not the first time a match has been abandoned in this campaign.

Serbia and Albania’s Group I meeting in October had to be called off after a brawl broke out when a drone carrying a political banner was flown onto the pitch in Belgrade.

Serbia were awarded a 3-0 victory but were unable to claim any advantage as both sides were docked three points and fined E100,000 (£78,000). Serbia were also made to play their next two qualifiers behind closed doors.

This latest abandonment comes after UEFA president Michel Platini warned of a return to the “dark days” of football hooliganism earlier this week.

Platini, who was re-elected for a third term as president, said there is a rising trend of “nationalism and extremism” in football stadiums and he called for a European sports police force to avoid problems witnessed in the “not-so-distant past”.

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