Trouble flares in Italy clash


Published: Sunday 16th November 2014 by The News Editor

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UEFA look set to launch an investigation into the crowd trouble which marred Italy’s Euro 2016 Group H qualifier against Croatia, which was halted after flares were thrown onto the pitch at the Giuseppe Meazza Stadium.

Antonio Candreva had put the Azzurri ahead on 11 minutes, but that was quickly cancelled out when Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon fumbled a shot from Ivan Perisic (15) over the line.

Flares were then thrown onto the field by the Croatia fans, with a hold-up before play was able to be resumed.

The atmosphere continued to be hostile into the second half, and on 70 minutes Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers took the players off after more flares landed on the pitch, with Italian riot police going into the Croatia fans’ section to try to restore order.

Following a stoppage of around 12 minutes, the match eventually restarted, and Croatia spurned a great chance to win the tie when Perisic dragged his shot wide after being put away down the left, with the match finishing 1-1.

Croatia are ahead of Italy on goal difference with both teams level on 10 points from four matches and facing possible sanctions once UEFA have compiled all the necessary reports.

The early kick off in Group H saw Norway pick up a valuable 1-0 win away to Azerbaijan through a first-half header by Havard Nordtveit of Borussia Monchengladbach.

The Czech Republic moved clear at the top of Group A after they beat Iceland 2-1 in Plzen to main a 100 per cent record.

Iceland took the lead through Ragnar Sigurdsson (nine), but Pavel Kaderabek equalised in first-half stoppage-time.

The decisive moment came just after the hour when a mistake from Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Thor Halldorsson contributed to a Jon Dadi Bodvarsson own-goal, which allowed the Czech’s to open up a three-point lead at the top.

Turkey, meanwhile, defeated Kazakhstan 3-1 to move off the foot of the group, with Burak Yilmaz netting a first-half brace.

Holland had earlier trashed Latvia 6-0 in Amsterdam as their Euro 2016 Group A qualifying campaign finally kicked into life.

Manager Guus Hiddink had threatened to walk away if the Oranje were been beaten again, having seen his side defeated in both away games so far against the Czech Republic and Iceland.

The Dutch, who reached the World Cup semi-finals, responded as Robin van Persie scored after just six minutes with his 48th international goal.

Rampant Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben cracked home a second (35) and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (42) made it 3-0 before half-time.

PSV Eindhoven defender Jeffrey Bruma (78) scored his first international goal after a corner, with Robben (82) and Huntelaar (89) completing the route of Marians Pahars’ men.

The victory came at a cost, however, with Manchester United’s defensive midfielder Daley Blind having limped off in the first half.

Israel leapfrogged Wales at the top of Group B after an impressive 3-0 win over Bosnia-Herzogovina in Haifa, with goals from Gil Vermouth (36) and Omer Damari (45).

Bosnia-Herzogovina defender Toni Sunjic was sent off for a professional foul on Damari at the start of the second half, before Eran Zahavi (70) completed the scoring as Israel made it three wins from three qualifying games so far.

Bulgaria were held to a 1-1 draw by minnows Malta in Sofia.

The hosts – on the back of successive defeats – took an early lead through Andrey Galabinov (six), only for Malta – without a goal in almost a year and previously pointless in Group H – drew level through Clayton Failla’s penalty just after half-time.

Ivelin Popov had a chance to put Bulgaria back in front from the penalty spot on 76 minutes, but the captain blazed the ball over.

Wales had earlier kept the qualification hopes very much alive after battling to a goalless draw against Belgium in Brussels.

Cyprus recovered form in Group B, as they beat Andorra 5-0 in Nicosia.

APOEL winger Georgios Efrem became the first Cypriot to score an international hat-trick when slotting home on the hour following a first-half brace (31, 42) after Giorgos Merkis had set the hosts on their way with a ninth minute goal.

Demetris Christofi (86) added a late fifth from the penalty spot as Cyprus recorded a second qualifying win in the group following back-to-back defeats.

Published: Sunday 16th November 2014 by The News Editor

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