Milk Cup match between Northern Ireland and Mexico Under-20's descends into TWO violent brawls as four players are sent off

The two teams aimed punches and kicks at each other on two separate occasions

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The Independent Online

A Northern Ireland Under-20s player was thrown to the floor and kicked after Wednesday’s Milk Cup Elite match between Northern Ireland and Mexico descended into a violent brawl that saw four players red carded for their part in the melee.

Northern Ireland went on to win the match in Coleraine 2-1, but it was far from smooth sailing as two mass fights broke out during the second half.

The first fight saw Mexico’s goalkeeper Raul Monala Gudino and defender Carlos Arreola sent off after the two teams clashed, with Mexico players seen punching their opposition and one player kicking a North Irish player who was already on the floor.

Northern Ireland’s Robbie McDaid was also shown a red card, but it wouldn’t be the last of the match as a second flare-up came after a fourth sending off four minutes from time.

Mexico’s Kevin Gutierrez was sent off for kicking another player, but as referee Tim Marshall was dealing with the offender, the two teams collided once again behind him.

Once order was restored, Marshal blew the final whistle to bring the shameful match to an end, and Northern Ireland Under 20 manager Stephen Craigan laid the blame firmly at the door of Mexico’s players.

“I think some of our players had to protect themselves from kicks, punches and head butts,” said Craigan, a former Northern Ireland international.

“It was not nice. There were young kids here from around the world. They were here to watch a football match, they do not expect to see that.

“Mexico did it last year, they had a man sent-off for punching. They have a history of it.

“I have to be careful what I say, but I would like to think Mexico will not be back at the Milk Cup.

“It is not what the Milk Cup is all about. It is about people enjoying football and young kids expressing themselves, not that kind of violence.”

Milk Cup organisers confirmed that all four players who were dismissed in the match have been suspended for the rest of the tournament.

“The Mexican FA and Irish Football Association will be informed of the behaviour of their teams in what turned out to be a poor advertisement for soccer,” they said.

“We would ask all teams to remember that they should be ambassadors for the game, their club and their country and appeal that they examine their behaviour and strive towards fulfilling the good intentions laid down in Fifa Fair Play.”