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FOOTBALL

Seville on alert after Frankfurt ultras attack Rangers fans

Five Eintracht Frankfurt fans were arrested in Seville on Tuesday night after an attack launched on Rangers supporters ahead of the teams' Europa League final on Wednesday.

Seville on alert after Frankfurt ultras attack Rangers fans
Up to 100,000 Rangers fans and at least 60,000 Frankfurt supporters are expected to have followed their teams to the final, raising concerns about security. (Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP)

Several police vans were called at around midnight to neutralise ugly scenes in the centre of the Spanish city where glasses, flares and tables were being thrown.

There were no serious injuries, a police statement confirmed on Wednesday, although one Rangers fan sustained a head injury.

The statement said: “The events took place around midnight last night, when there was a massive fight in front of the Cathedral of Seville.

“The members of the Police Intervention Units that were located in the Plaza de San Francisco had to intervene quickly to break up an incident caused by a group of 200 Eintracht Frankfurt fans who were attacking Glasgow Rangers supporters.”

After seeing police arriving, Frankfurt fans “fled towards Paseo Colón, beating Rangers supporters as they fled and confronting police officers who were trying to prevent the Scottish supporters from attacking.

“The police proceeded to arrest four German fans in the vicinity of Paseo de Colón and another German supporter in Puerta de Jérez.”

Estimates suggest Seville will increase its population by a quarter on Wednesday as huge numbers of fans arrive in the city for the final at Sevilla’s Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán.

Up to 100,000 Rangers fans and at least 60,000 Frankfurt supporters are expected to have followed their teams to the final, raising concerns about security.

Frankfurt fans clashed with West Ham fans in Seville when the former were playing Real Betis and the latter Sevilla in March.

Rangers’ last European final the 2008 UEFA Cup against Zenit St Petersburg in Manchester was marred by violence as 39 people were arrested and riot police called in.

Police hope to separate fans without tickets for the match on Wednesday night.

Rangers fans not attending the game will be able to watch in a fan zone at La Cartuja stadium, located on the outskirts of Seville and nine kilometres from the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán.

Ticketless Frankfurt supporters will be urged to congregate at the Prado de San Sebastián, closer to the centre but six kilometres away from La Cartuja.

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FOOTBALL

Japan stun Spain but both reach World Cup last 16

Spain staggered through to the World Cup last 16 on Thursday despite a 2-1 defeat by Japan, who remarkably won Group E on a rollercoaster night which saw four-time champions Germany eliminated.

Japan stun Spain but both reach World Cup last 16

Japan secured another incredible triumph after beating Germany in their opening game, with their progression from the “group of death” one of the greatest achievements in the country’s footballing history.

For a few heart-stopping minutes Spain were poised to head out when Costa Rica were leading in the other game, but the 2010 champions squeezed through after Germany did them a favour by coming back to beat Los Ticos.

Spain and Germany ended on four points each, but La Roja progressed on goal difference.

Alvaro Morata sent Spain ahead early on with a towering header, but Japan dramatically struck back at the start of the second half.

Ritsu Doan and Ao Tanaka’s goals saw them mount a sensational comeback, just as they did against Germany.

Tanaka’s goal was highly controversial after the officials relied on VAR to decide Kaoru Mitoma had kept the ball in play by a hair’s breadth to set him up.

Spain struggled to create chances against a staunch Japanese defence in the final stages, with the Asian side aware that conceding another goal would see them eliminated.

Japanese players collapsed at full-time in celebration, exhausted and elated, while the substitutes raced on to celebrate.

Spain face Morocco in the last 16, while Japan play Croatia.

Despite beating Costa Rica 4-2, Germany went out on goal difference to Spain. (Photo by Ina Fassbender / AFP)

Rollercoaster night

Both sides made five changes, with Luis Enrique bringing in Morata to lead the line, and handing Alejandro Balde and Nico Williams their full debuts.

Japan started with five at the back, hoping to keep Spain at bay, but pressed high in attack to try and capitalise on any mistakes.

Spain are sometimes guilty of glaring defensive errors and Pau Torres exemplified that with a sloppy touch which led to Japan’s first chance, fired into the side-netting by Junya Ito.

Morata sent La Roja ahead in the 12th minute with a towering header from Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross, rekindling the connection which occasionally worked at Chelsea after the striker’s arrival in 2017.

Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu replaced the ineffective Takefuso Kubo and Yuto Nagatomo at the break with Mitoma and Doan, and it paid instant dividends.

Balde lost the ball under pressure and from the edge of the box winger Doan hammered past Unai Simon, who might have done more to keep it out.

Three minutes later and Japan had turned the game on its head, Tanaka bundling home from on the goalline after Mitoma had miraculously kept the ball in play as he crossed it — according to VAR.

Spain were shellshocked and struggled to react, with Luis Enrique making a raft of substitutions to try and regain control.

The coach, alone and perched on the edge of his technical area, was unaware that for a few moments his team faced elimination, when Costa Rica took the lead against Germany in the other game to go 2-1 ahead.

Spain survived, progressing thanks to their superior goal difference, on a night that was far more terrifying than they had anticipated — and Japan secured a hugely unlikely achievement.

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