Earlier this evening, AS Roma returned to the UEFA Champions League following a three-year absence from the European competition. The Giallorossi announced their re-emergence into the tournament by smashing CSKA Moscow by a score of 5-1.
Former Arsenal striker Gervinho scored a brace and assisted another goal as the Italian side notched four unanswered goals in the opening 31 minutes of the contest.
But a night which should have been remembered as a celebration of Roma’s return to the Champions League has been marred by crowd violence between opposing supporters.
There were clashes inside and outside of Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday night. Play had to be halted in the second half due to the disruption in the stands. And it has been reported that there were skirmishes outside of the stadium before the start of the match.
It is believed that CSKA fans broke through a barrier and came in contact with Roma’s ‘Ultras’ prior to the contest. Reports from Italy are stating that two Russian fans sustained injuries; one with a minor stab wound and another fan was hit by a bottle.
Unfortunately, AS Roma manager Rudi Garcia had to comment on the fan incidents following his team’s outstanding performance. “Football must be a celebration, not a battle. If this happened then it is not normal and we have to throw out all those who do these things, even outside of the stadium,” Garcia said during his post-match press conference.
The crowd violence takes some of the shine off of a spectacular performance by Garcia’s men. But the manager redirected the media’s focus onto his players’ performance and the club’s immediate future in the European competition.
“When you start on home turf, it is fundamental to get the three points. We started on the right foot – maybe two right feet – and now we go to [Manchester City] with more confidence.”