The Euro 2012 qualifier between Italy and Serbia in Genoa was abandoned last night after just six minutes following serious crowd trouble at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.
The game had kicked off 35 minutes late after Serbia fans had thrown flares onto the pitch and at the home supporters. Even appeals from the Serbia players failed to calm them and when the game finally started the teams were soon led off by Scottish referee Craig Thomson as firefighters hosed down an area of the ground where the flares had landed.
"Fans that are so dangerous should not have arrived in Genoa," said Italy's security director Roberto Massucci. "They should have been stopped by the Serbian officials. We were aware that this game had a risk factor but a behaviour of such aggressiveness we had not experienced for some time."
Earlier the Serbia goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic withdrew from the team after reportedly being abused by his own supporters on the coach journey to the ground.
The Northern Ireland manager, Nigel Worthington, accused his side of complacency after they followed Friday's fine draw against Italy by being held 1-1 by the Faroe Islands in Toftir. Worthington said: "They were well warned how tough the game was going to be. It was an indisciplined performance by the team, not in terms of yellow cards but in our shape. People were doing the wrong thing."
The visitors fell behind in the 61st minute when Christian Holst punished some slack defending and though Kyle Lafferty equalised 15 minutes later Northern Ireland rarely looked like fashioning a winner. "I am absolutely delighted to get a point after going a goal down," Worthington added. "But without a shadow of a doubt it is two points lost. We have trained very well. However if we do not do the things we are good at you are going to get a slap – and we got a slap."
Brian Kerr, the former Republic of Ireland manager, is in charge of the Faroe Islands and enjoyed his side's first point in the Euro 2012 qualifiers after a run of four defeats. "Being from Ireland, with my parents from Belfast, it was a good day for me," he said.
The Republic of Ireland earned a battling 1-1 draw against Slovakia in Zilina but were left to rue Robbie Keane's missed penalty. After Sean St Ledger's opener had been cancelled out by Jan Durica in the 36th minute, the Republic were handed a great chance to retake the lead in first-half stoppage time when Aiden McGeady was brought down by Jan Mucha. But the goalkeeper made up for his error with a fine save from Keane's penalty. "Missing penalties is not a problem," the Republic manager, Giovanni Trapattoni, said. "The problem is I know he [Keane] is not 100 per cent fit. He didn't play like he can."
France beat 10-man Luxembourg 2--0 in Metz, Germany won 3-0 in Kazakhstan and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Ibrahim Afellay both scored twice as the Netherlands beat Sweden 4-1, a victory marred by a serious ankle injury sustained by Liverpool's Dirk Kuyt.Reuse content