England Under-21 team attacked in Serbia

MIKE COLLETT
Last updated 08:37 17/10/2012
Raheem Sterling
Getty Images
BAD BLOOD: Serbia's Nikola Ninkovic is held back by teammates as he tries to go after England's Raheem Sterling during a fight at the end of their Under-21 European qualifying match.

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England players and officials were attacked by their Serbian opponents and racially abused by home fans moments after a 1-0 win over Serbia in a European Under-21 playoff today.

England, leading 1-0 from the first leg, scored with the last kick of the second leg in the regional town of Krusevac to secure a 2-0 aggregate victory. They were then pelted by missiles as they celebrated their winning goal scored by Connor Wickham.

The trouble quickly escalated when Serbian players started attacking England's players and the crowd's monkey chants could clearly be heard as England defender Danny Rose was shown a red card for kicking the ball into the crowd after the final whistle.

"I think there were one or two racist incidents from the crowd, certainly, and they have been reported to UEFA and they will have to deal with that," England coach Stuart Pearce told ESPN.

"It's very sad. A lot is happening in our country in stamping out racism and I am proud of the reaction of our players at the end. It's a real shame because over two legs it was a good tie between two close teams.

"No matter what provocation comes your way we are in a profession where you have to hold your dignity. That is vitally important as a professional footballer. It was a tough evening tonight for them."

Rose, standing apart from the main group of players, got involved in a row with home spectators and began mimicking a monkey by sticking his arms underneath his armpits to demonstrate the racial nature of the abuse.

At the same time England players and officials were attacked by some of the Serbian players with punches thrown as they tried to enter the tunnel.

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- Reuters

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