Violence flares in Warsaw before 1-1 draw
By Patrick Graham
WARSAW (Reuters) - A thrilling 1-1 draw between old adversaries Poland and Russia was marred by the worst fan violence of soccer's European Championship so far on Tuesday, with 123 fans arrested after running street battles in Warsaw.
Riot police were pelted with missiles including rocks, flares and bottles, firing tear gas and rubber bullets at fans in response after bloody fighting broke out on the bridge across the Vistula river leading to the national stadium.
The match always promised to be a highly-charged affair due to centuries of conflict between the two countries and the Soviet domination of Poland after World War two.
Around 20,000 Russian fans were in the Polish capital for the Group A clash, held on Russia's Independence Day, and before kickoff a huge flag was unfurled with the highly inflammatory slogan "This Is Russia".
An estimated 100,000 Poles gathered in the city's main square to watch the match but their hearts sunk when Alan Dzagoyev put Russia ahead after 37 minutes.
Poland skipper Jakub Blaszczykowski equalized after 57 minutes with an unstoppable shot to earn the co-hosts a second consecutive draw which means they will reach the quarter-finals if they beat the Czech Republic in their final Group A game.
"For sure the fans are supporting us in a great way," Poland coach Franciszek Smuda told reporters, perhaps unaware of the chaotic scenes in the city before kickoff.
"We have four days to prepare for the Czechs. The players need to rest and we will fight till the end with the Czechs." Continued...