Jun 11, 2016 7:50 PM

Fighting overshadows football again at Euro 2016

The Associated Press

PARIS (AP) Fighting fans, tear gas and riot police returned to the streets of Marseille on Saturday, before and after England's 1-1 draw with Russia at the European Championship.

Clashes between England and Russia supporters even broke out inside the stadium at the final whistle, after Vasily Berezutsky headed the equalizer in stoppage time. England had taken a 73rd minute lead through a superb free kick by Eric Dier.

The fighting at Stade Velodrome came on a third straight day of hooliganism in the Mediterranean port city. The latest incidents prompted police to use water cannons on the troublemakers.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said one British citizen was "seriously injured" in the clashes.

"Once again, as over the last 30 years, an international football competition has been the scene of clashes between violent people claiming to be supporters of their national team," Cazeneuve said in a statement.

UEFA, the governing body of European soccer, also condemned the fans, saying "people engaging in such violent acts have no place in football." It will launch an investigation into the clashes.

The violence overshadowed a second day of the tournament that saw Wales make a winning return to tournament football after 58 years with a 2-1 victory over Slovakia. Switzerland opened with a 1-0 win against Albania.

Two weeks after helping Real Madrid win the Champions League, Gareth Bale stamped his mark on Euro 2016 by scoring the opening goal for Wales with a swerving free kick in the 10th minute.

Ondrej Duda equalized for Slovakia just a minute after coming on as a substitute, but Hal Robson-Kanu's scrappy goal secured victory in the country's first major championship match since the 1958 World Cup.

"We've got the three points, which is fantastic, but the important thing was the performance," said Wales coach Chris Coleman, who highlighted Bale's all-round performance.

"Everybody will look at his goal but some of his best moments were at the end of the game, his football intelligence... He understands what is needed of him and he delivers, and the end result is three million Welsh people loving him."

Fabian Schaer headed Switzerland's winner after just five minutes of a game that made a slice of European Championship history.

For the first time, two brothers played for opposing sides as Granit Xhaka helped the Swiss to victory over an Albania side that included his older brother Taulant.

"It was rather bizarre," said Granit, who was recently signed by Arsenal after captaining Borussia Monchengladbach to fourth place in the Bundesliga last season.

"We gave everything for our country, both of us. We're both very happy, me a bit more because we won."

The action continues on Sunday with the first match for world champion Germany, which takes on Ukraine in Lille, while Poland faces Northern Ireland in the other Group C match. Turkey plays Croatia in Group D.

Germany coach Joachim Loew knows that the expectations on his team will be immense, given the triumph in Brazil two years ago.

"I'm more looking forward to it than feeling pressure," Loew said Saturday. "Germany always has pressure, the same in 2012 as now, the expectations are high but we can deal with them. Pressure is no issue. We have enough experienced players."


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