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Argentine match suspended after flares explode near keeper


BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) -- Angry Estudiantes captain Juan Sebastian Veron remonstrated with his own team's fans after flares they threw left Banfield goalkeeper Cristian Lucchetti disorientated and caused their match to be suspended on Monday.

Lucchetti suffered "acoustic trauma on two occasions", Banfield's doctor Jorge Aguerreche said after the goalkeeper went down holding his ears from the explosions of two flares thrown from the home supporters' end of the ground early in the Apertura championship match.

"The two explosions (seven minutes apart) caused a state of general confusion (in Lucchetti) but he won't suffer consequences," Aguerreche told reporters outside the visitors' dressing room after the match was suspended in the 13th minute.

Lucchetti played on after the first incident and Banfield took a 1-0 lead with a goal by Uruguayan former Estudiantes striker Rodrigo Lopez in the ninth minute of the match between the bottom two teams in the Apertura standings.

"Get down... get down or I'll beat you up," Veron shouted to fans who had clambered up the perimeter fencing. Strikers Gaston Fernandez and Mauro Boselli joined Veron in remonstrating with the fans from behind the goal after the second explosion.

Estudiantes president Enrique Lombardi said the club were trying to eradicate the hooligan element from their matches.

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"We're fighting against these groups (of hooligans) and it seems this is the price we have to pay (but) we'll continue to fight against (soccer) violence," Lombardi told match broadcasters TV Publica.

Referee Fernando Echenique suspended the match after Lucchetti told him he could not play on and the chief of the police contingent at the ground said he could not guarantee fans would not cause more trouble. There was no explanation as to how fans had managed to smuggle flares into the ground.

Estudiantes, Apertura champions 11 months ago, and Banfield, who won the title in 2009, have struggled this season both taking only 10 points from 14 matches.

Three weeks ago, San Lorenzo's home match against All Boys was postponed after a "barrabrava" hard core fan attacked a player after a training session.

San Lorenzo, who have dropped into the bottom four in the parallel relegation standings after taking only one point in their last four matches, sacked coach Omar Asad after Sunday's 1-0 home defeat by Union.

Relegation in Argentina is calculated on points averages over three seasons and, as things stand, San Lorenzo will need a playoff against a Nacional B (second division) side at the end of the season in June to try to save their first division status.

With Olimpo (17th with 14 points) also sacking Omar de Felippe on Monday, seven coaches have left their jobs during the Apertura championship, first of two in the Argentine season, which kicked off in August.