Manchester City’s Serbian international Aleksandar Kolarov had more defending to do than usual last night when he acted as peacemaker during an on-pitch brawl against Albania in Belgrade.
Kolarov stepped in when Albanian players reacted angrily after some of the Serbian team took down a flag flown into the stadium by a drone, sparking an on-pitch brawl in Belgrade that forced the match to be abandoned by Uefa.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) October 14, 2014
Kolarov’s City teammate Matija Nastasic was also in the Serbian starting 11 as Premier League referee Martin Atkinson called a halt to proceedings late in the first half, with the match poised at 0-0.
Serbia captain Branislav Ivanovic said feelings among the players were actually largely peaceful and bystanders were responsible for making the situation an ugly one.
“What happened is something we can’t comprehend at the moment,” Chelsea’s Ivanovic told reporters.
“On behalf of my team, all I can say is that we wanted to carry on and that we shielded the Albanian players every step of the way to the tunnel (after the riot broke out).
“The Albanian team said they were unfit physically and mentally to carry on after talking to the officials and they will now decide the fate of this match. We can only regret that football took a back seat but it is difficult to draw any conclusions or make any comments now.”
Meanwhile Albanian captain Lorik Cana told Albanian television he was equally gobsmacked by what he witnessed.
“I saw my players being attacked and hit even inside the tunnel, and even by the stewards. We were not in the right psychological or physical state to continue playing.”
Security had been ramped up for the game at which no away fans were present given tensions in the region over Kosovo.
Main image courtesy of Manchester City FC via YouTube, with thanks.