Crowd trouble forces cancellation of Italy game

ITALY’s Euro 2012 Group C qualifier against Serbia was abandoned by UEFA last night after just six minutes due to crowd disturbances.

The game at Genoa’s Luigi Ferraris stadium was delayed for 35 minutes after a section of Serbian fans threw fire crackers and flares in the direction of the north stand where Italian supporters were seated, and onto the pitch.

Serbian players, led by Inter Milan midfielder Dejan Stankovic, urged their fans to calm down as families began to make their way towards the exit. The game started but it wasn’t long before Scottish referee Craig Thomson stopped play after a Serbian fan threw a flare onto the pitch, which narrowly missed Italy goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano.

After a delay, Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said: “The game will not be played. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

To some it was unclear if Stankovic and his teammates had done their best to calm down those who were causing trouble.

“We tried to calm our fans, we didn’t applaud them,” said the captain.

The 1,600 Serbian fans were kept in the stadium under police surveillance as the Italian supporters left the stands.

Meanwhile in the same group Faroe Islands boss Brian Kerr admitted it had been a “very, very good day” as his part-time side drew 1-1 with Northern Ireland.

Former Ireland manager Kerr saw his side lead through Christian Holst before being pegged back by Kyle Lafferty’s equaliser.

Scotland staged a spirited comeback from two goals down against Spain at Hampden but still found the world champions too strong.

David Villa put the visitors ahead from the spot just before the break and Andres Iniesta doubled their lead 10 minutes after the restart.

A Steven Naismith header gave the home side a lifeline before Spain defender Gerard Pique scored an own goal trying to cut out a James Morrison cross, but substitute Fernando Llorente restored the visitors’ lead with a header.

Elsewhere, Valentin Stocker struck twice as Switzerland sent Wales crashing to their third successive qualifying defeat.

Brian Flynn’s side performed creditably for most of a pulsating contest at Basle’s St Jakob Park but a Gokhan Inler penalty and Stocker’s second finished them off in the final eight minutes.

Germany extended their 100% record in Group A with three unanswered goals in the second half at Kazakhstan’s Ortalyk Tsentralnyi Stadium. Miroslav Klose got his side on the scoresheet three minutes into the second half, while Mario Gomez and Lukas Podolski also found the target.

Holland made it four wins from four with a handsome 4-1 win over Group E rivals Sweden.

The Dutch had two goals each from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Ibrahim Afellay. Sweden’s Andreas Granqvist managed to convert a rare chance to deny the World Cup finalists a clean sheet. In the same group, Balazs Dzsudzsak’s dramatic injury-time winner handed Hungary a precious win in Finland.


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