By David Ingham
Fears that Lech Poznan’s visit to Manchester could spark the return of football violence in the city, proved unfounded on Wednesday.
Around six thousand fans travelled to Manchester for a Europa League match at City’s Eastlands stadium, amid suggestions that hooligan elements may attempt to cause trouble.
It is believed that about 2,000 fans travelled directly from Poland by plane or car, with an additional 4,000 coming from around the UK.
Prior to the game Szymon Bialek, Vice Consul, at the Polish Consulate in Manchester, said he believed the match was an opportunity to show the positive side of Poland’s football fans.
“We have helped Manchester City, Lech Poznan, the police and Polish nationals to get ready for the game and we are prepared for any eventuality,” he said.
“The important thing is that everything goes well and I really believe it will.
“The representatives of supporters for Lech assured us that every will be ok,” he added.
Most supporters arriving in the city on Wednesday were in party mood at the prospect of seeing the Polish champions take on City’s superstars.
Fans in Piccadilly Gardens reiterated the view that they were just here to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the game.
Maciej Lubanski, 35, from Poznan, said: “Manchester is a great city for sport not fighting.
“We aren’t here for trouble, we just want to see our team win.”
Inside the stadium the atmosphere was a little different before kick-off as Lech fans reacted angrily to the ejection of two of their own fans, by police.
But once the game began, both sets of supporters played their part in creating a wonderful atmosphere, in a game that City won.