FOOTBALL: Twenty people were reportedly arrested and a further 57 detained as Panathinaikos supporters threw petrol bombs at riot police in the Olympic Stadium on Sunday night.
A number of ugly incidents marred the top of the table clash between the hosts and their arch-rivals and league leaders Olympiacos - known as the "derby of the eternal enemies" - and the contest was finally abandoned eight minutes from time as violence in the ground escalated out of control.
No Olympiacos fans had been permitted to attend the game due to concerns over disorder but the ban did nothing to prevent the ugly scenes that led to two police officers being seriously injured.
"We dedicated several thousand personnel to policing the game and we faced, beginning two hours before the game started, escalating attacks," police spokesman Athanassios Kokalakis said.
It is believed that the trouble prior to kick-off was prompted by hundreds of youths without tickets attempting to enter the ground and events took a turn for the worse when a masked group of around 200 individuals armed with clubs and iron bars attacked riot police at half-time.
After the restart, which was delayed by 35 minutes, Olympiakos, four points ahead of their Athens opponents in the Superleague Greece, took the lead through Djamel Abdoun.
Home supporters then set fire to seats in the upper and lower stands while two policemen were isolated and beaten with clubs and metal bars for several minutes.
Referee Tassos Kakos finally abandoned the game when firebombs were added to the mix of projectiles thrown at police and photographers.
"The noise was so much that the players could not concentrate," Olympiacos coach Ernesto Valverde said.
The stadium's electronic scoreboard caught fire and was damaged before fire trucks entered to tackle the blaze, only to be attacked by fans.
As a result trucks with water cannons were deployed and the the fires were eventually put out.
Government general secretary for sport Panos Bitsaxis said on television that the state had taken "the best possible security measures" and accused football clubs of doing nothing to curb the fanatical supporters and of opposing attempts to impose tougher sanctions.
According to league rules Panathinaikos face a three-point deduction along with a steep fine, as well as the prospect of playing a few matches behind closed doors.
Michalis Anagnostou, the league's general manager, said: "We had been co-operating with the police for almost a month in preparation for the game.
"The result was not what we wished for."
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