European football’s governing body UEFA is to investigate the violence that brought the Europa League match between Everton and Hajduk Split to a standstill on Thursday night.
Trouble flared in the 33rd minute of the Europa League first round playoff first leg at Everton’s Goodison Park when Hajduk Split fan group Torcida Split threw missiles onto the pitch and kicked over advertising boards as fans clamored to enter the field of play.
Stewards and players approached the away fans to try and calm the melee, before Slovakian referee Ivan Kružliak instructed players off the pitch.
The Hajduk Split players made their way over to the away end and pleaded with their traveling support to restore order.
Hajduk fans could be seen throwing chairs and other missiles at the home end and breaking onto the pitch, having to be held back by stewards, causing the game to be held up for five minutes.
Some sections of Croatian media have defended the behavior of the Hajduk fans, accusing Everton fans of provoking the away crowd.
“Croatian newspapers describing Everton fans as bunch of wildlings that were constantly throwing coins and other objects at Hajduk fans,” Hajduk Split News wrote on Twitter.
“Everton won, yet their fans are yapping about [admittedly inexcusable] Torcida behavior.”
Merseyside police said they had detained one man for pitch encroachment and that he is likely to be summoned for a court appearance at a later date.
Everton won the game 2-0 with goals from Michael Keane and Idrissa Gueye heading into the return leg next Thursday.
The match at Goodison Park featured a minute’s applause from the home support in the 11th minute to mark the 10th anniversary of the shooting death of Liverpool schoolboy and Everton fan Rhys Jones.