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Turin night ends in relative calm
Clara Ferreira-Marques and Simon Evans | April 14, 2005 10:59 IST
A tense night ended in relative calm on Wednesday when a Champions League match between Juventus and Liverpool appeared to have passed without serious outbreaks of violence or injury.
However it was not trouble-free, although a huge police presence prevented a number of potentially dangerous situations spiralling out of control.
The fact Liverpool knocked Juventus out of the competition following a 0-0 draw which gave the English side a 2-1 aggregate win was also reason for possible trouble -- which appeared not to have materialised.
But plastic bottles, a few seats and other objects were thrown by Juve fans at Liverpool supporters, some of whom responded by throwing the same missiles back into the Italian section.
A small group of around 20 Liverpool fans then moved towards fencing separating them from Juve supporters only to be pushed back by police.
Fears had long been raised that hard-core Juventus fans would cause trouble at the game, seeking revenge for the 1985 Heysel Stadium tragedy. Thirty-nine fans, mainly Italians, died after a wall collapsed following a charge by Liverpool fans before the European Cup final in Brussels.
The clubs had not met since that fateful night until they played the first leg of this quarter-final at Anfield which Liverpool won 2-1.
The incidents inside the Delle Alpi came after a group of 50 Juventus fans clashed with police outside the stadium. The fans were part of a larger group of around 150 supporters wielding batons who faced off against some 100 police officers, pelting them with various missiles including flares.
Two cars were in flames, one of them a police car, near the scene of the clash as riot police took more than half an hour to bring the situation largely under control.
Juventus fans, who dispersed into smaller groups after a series of police charges, wore scarves across their faces to avoid identification.
Two police helicopters buzzed overhead throughout the disturbances.
Liverpool supporters were bussed into the stadium more than an hour before the kickoff of the quarter-final, second leg tie. Liverpool won the first leg 2-1.
Inside the stadium, there was a relatively calm atmosphere before the game although missiles were exchanged in scenes eerily reminiscent of Heysel.
The south end of the stadium, home to Juve's hardcore "ultra" support, unveiled a banner in tribute to the 39 victims of the Heysel tragedy which was warmly received by the rest of the stadium who responded with applause.
Police created "no man's land" either side of the Liverpool section, with around 50 security officials in place.
After the game, Liverpool fans were kept behind until well after the Juventus supporters had left, before being bussed back to their hotels and Turin airport.
There was no initial sign of any incidents after the game.
Police had tightened security and drafted in undercover agents to help keep the peace in Turin, while many Liverpool fans were being hosted in neighbouring towns rather than the city itself.
Tension in Turin has been heightened following the behaviour of Inter Milan fans on Tuesday. They forced their Champions League match against rivals AC Milan to be abandoned after 73 minutes when they threw flares, fireworks and bottles on to the pitch at the San Siro stadium which they share with Milan.
UEFA's Disciplinary body will meet on Friday to decide Inter's fate, and they are also likely to take some action against Juventus for the trouble that did occur in the stadium on Wednesday.