Sweden, Austria get important wins in Euro 2016 qualifying
PODGORICA, Montenegro (AP) — The European championship qualifying match between Montenegro and Russia was abandoned Friday after Russia's goalkeeper was hit by a flare and a 30-minute suspension of the game was followed by a brawl between players.
The Group G game was called off in the 66th minute with the score at 0-0 when players and staff from both teams clashed shortly after Vukasin Poleksic had saved Roman Shirokov's penalty. The Russian players then left the pitch, later followed by the Montenegrin team. A stadium announcement said the match would not resume. It was not immediately clear whether Russia would be awarded a victory.
The match had previously been suspended for 30 minutes after Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev was hit by a flare thrown from the stands.
Akinfeev was struck on the head by the flare approximately 20 seconds after kickoff and was carried off the pitch on a stretcher.
He was taken to the local hospital in the Montenegrin capital Podgorica, wearing a neck brace. Miljan Zindovic, an emergency care doctor at Podgorica hospital, said Akinfeev was brought to the hospital with a neck injury and minor burns. An examination determined he had no major injuries, but the goalkeeper would remain under observation in the hospital for "a few hours," Zindovic said.
Russia, which sits third in Group G, had dominated the match but failed to convert a string of chances before Shirokov's penalty.
Elsewhere in the group, two goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic gave Sweden a 2-0 win away to Moldova. Sweden is four points behind group leader Austria, which strolled to a 5-0 win over Liechtenstein.
Ibrahimovic's 46th-minute opener was a gift from Moldovan goalkeeper Ilie Cebanu, who hit his clearance straight at the Sweden striker. Ibrahimovic reacted quickly to head the ball into the open net from just outside the area, and then added his second from the penalty spot in the 84th.
Austria was in control throughout as five different players scored, including David Alaba and Marko Arnautovic.
In Podgorica, the flare thrown from the crowd struck Akinfeev from behind shortly after kickoff. The goalkeeper collapsed to the ground and was treated immediately by medical staff. When the game resumed, Akinfeev was replaced by substitute goalkeeper Yuri Lodygin.
Russia and Montenegro are third and fourth respectively in Group G, both with five points from four games.
It was the first time that Russia and Montenegro played against each another.
It is not the first case of severe crowd trouble during a Euro 2016 qualifier. Last year, a match between Serbia and Albania was abandoned after a drone carrying a political banner was flown into the stadium.
A Serbia player pulled the banner down and Albanian players tried to protect it. In the resulting disorder, Serbian fans attacked Albania players. Both teams were punished over the incident.