Brazilians in Cup brawl

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The Independent Online

A brawl involving players, directors, riot police and security men held up play for 15 minutes in a heated Libertadores Cup quarter-final which saw three players sent off.

The first-leg game in South America's top club competition between the Brazilian sides Gremio and Palmeiras in Porto Alegre became embroiled in violence after an incident in which the Gremio midfielder Dinho was accused of head-butting an opponent, who responded by punching him in the face.

Dinho left the pitch with his face covered in blood following the altercation with the Palmeiras striker Valber in the 20th minute. Both players were sent off but clashed again as they were leaving the field. The pair were pulled apart by police and security men but while Valber was being held back he was hit in the back by Gremio's goalkeeper.

Substitutes from both teams, dozens of police, club directors and radio reporters joined the fray and play was halted.

Carlos Alberto Silva, the Palmeiras coach, said: "The Gremio players were encouraging the police to hit Palmeiras players."

The forward Rivaldo had been sent off in the 11th minute after lunging into an opponent, so Palmeiras were later reduced to nine men. Predictably, Gremio went on to win 5-0. Three more players were dismissed as the holders, Velez Sarsfield, held on for a 1-1 draw away to fellow Argentinians River Plate.