Croatia coach Kovac apologises after notorious visiting fans hurl flares onto the San Siro pitch during Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy; the match ended in a 1-1 draw
Milan: Ugly flare-throwing incidents at Milan's storied San Siro stadium marred Sunday night's 1-1 draw between Italy and Group H leaders Croatia in the Euro 2016 qualifiers.
Flame and shame: A firefighter tries to douse the flares thrown onto the San Siro pitch by Croatian fans during Euro 2016 qualifier between Italy and Croatia in Milan on Sunday night. Pics/AFP
Croatia coach Niko Kovac spent most of the post-match period making apologies for the disruptive behaviour of his country's notorious fans. "I want to say sorry for what happened with our fans. This is not football and it's not a fair image of our country or our people," said the ex-skipper.
With an impressive crowd of 66,222 fans inside a packed San Siro, Antonio Candreva got the hosts off to a great start in the 11th minute with his debut goal. But four minutes later, Croatia's Ivan Perisic's low shot for 1-1 ensured they remain top of Group H with Italy still in second spot .
Rocket flares land on the pitch during Sunday's Euro qualifier between Italy & Croatia
However the UEFA spotlight will again shine on the Baltic nation, who have been issued with sanctions in the past for fans' behaviour. There was unrest in the stadium soon after kick-off.
Several rocket flares were thrown at the start of the game and loud bangs echoed all around after being set off in the Croatia fans' end.
Croatian fans set fire to the stands at the San Siro Stadium in Milan. Pics/AFP
Around an hour, the incidents reached boiling point. With most of the players camped in Croatia's end, Italy and Juventus goalkeeper Buffon became a target as fans launched flare after flare in his direction.
The match was halted momentarily, but officially postponed minutes later by referee Bjorn Kuipers as flares continued to hit the pitch. The players returned to the pitch approximately 10 minutes later and the match resumed with Italy and Croatia.
> Czech Rep 2-1 Iceland
> Turkey 3-1 Kazakhstan
> Israel 3-0 Bosnia-Herz.
> Bulgaria 1-1 Malta
> Italy 1-1 Croatia
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