Flare strikes Russian goalkeeper as Euro 2016 Qualifier in Montenegro abandoned

Play had to be suspended on two separate occasions before the referee called a halt to proceedings.

THE EURO 2016 Qualifier between Montenegro and Russia in Podgorica on Friday was abandoned with the score at 0-0 after trouble forced the German referee to stop play on two separate occasions.

Referee Deniz Aytekin first stopped play for around half an hour after visiting goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev was struck by a flare and eventually abandoned the match altogether after more missiles were thrown from the stand in the second half.

Akinfeev, 28, was hit on the right shoulder by a flare thrown from behind the goal at the Gradski Stadion just moments after the start of the qualifying Group G fixture.

The CSKA Moscow goalkeeper was stretchered off and taken to hospital as a precaution, while Aytekin ordered the players off the pitch and called a halt to the match.

UEFA doctor Slobo Mandic went with Akinfeev and said the goalkeeper was conscious.

A Montenegrin supporter in the crowd apologised through a loudspeaker at the stadium and said the “hooligan” who had thrown the flare had been identified.

The game eventually got under way again, with Akinfeev’s place on the field taken by Yuri Lodygin.

However, the second period only started after another long delay and there was another flashpoint when Russia were awarded a penalty in the 66th minute, much to the dismay of the home side.

Russia captain Roman Shirokov’s penalty was saved by home goalkeeper Vukasin Poleksic and a brawl between rival players and benches followed.

And when an object thrown from the crowd struck one of the Russian players, the referee decided to abandon the contest altogether.

Soccer -  UEFA Euro 2016 - Qualifying - Group C - Montenegro v Russia - Podgorica City Stadium Stanislav Krasilnikov Stanislav Krasilnikov

It remains to be seen how UEFA will react to the trouble, although they could opt to award Russia a 3-0 victory, with Montenegro in danger of facing further punishment.

Elsewhere, Switzerland eased to a 3-0 win at home to Estonia with Fabian Schaer, Granit Xhaka and Haris Seferovic all on target.

Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund’s Kevin Kampl was one of half a dozen different scorers as Slovenia hammered hapless San Marino 6-0.

Reigning European champions Spain took an important step towards qualifying from Group C with a 1-0 victory at home to Ukraine in Seville.

Alvaro Morata of Juventus was handed a start up front in the absence of injured Chelsea star Diego Costa and took advantage to score his first international goal in the 28th minute after being set up by Koke.

Spain were still not entirely convincing, but they could and probably should have won by more goals.

However, Sergio Ramos, on the ground where he first made his name with Sevilla a decade ago, headed against the woodwork from a David Silva free-kick and only a great Andriy Pyatov save stopped substitute Santi Cazorla making it 2-0 after a one-two with Isco.

Del Bosque’s side are now clear in second place in Group C, although they remain three points behind Slovakia, who won 3-0 at home to Luxembourg for a fifth win from five outings.

Elsewhere in Group C, Belarus came from behind to claim their first victory of the campaign, 2-1 in Macedonia.

- © AFP, 2015

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