Racing Club de Lens on Saturday defeated reigning French champions Lille OSC 1-0 in a northern derby overshadowed by a pitch invasion that delayed the start of the second half by 30 minutes.
Dozens of Lens supporters stormed the Stade Bollaert-Delelis pitch at halftime to confront the visiting Lille fans nestled away in a corner of the ground after tensions flared with other spectators.
Riot police intervened to separate the factions of opposing supporters as both sets of fans hurled seats at each other over a partition wall.
“We’re in the process of trying to get a clear view. It unfolded in some confusion. Of course, any act of violence is condemned by Lens,” club managing director Arnaud Pouille said. “Unfortunately the region’s image is affected by what happened.”
“I have a precise idea of the facts, but I don’t want to influence anyone,” he added. “You’ve seen the images. There were some gestures that sparked things and a reaction, which is damaging.”
Six people sustained minor injuries and police made two arrests, according to the Lens sub-prefect.
The trouble comes the week after OGC Nice were docked a point following the ugly incidents that led to their Aug. 22 home match with Olympique de Marseille to be abandoned.
That game is to be replayed at a neutral venue on Oct. 27. Nice were also ordered to play three matches behind closed doors.
A clash between Montpellier and Marseille on the opening weekend of the season was also interrupted for about 10 minutes after fans threw bottles onto the pitch.
“This start of the season is not going to help us. A reality check is quickly needed for everyone involved in football, starting with supporters,” French Minister of Sports Roxana Maracineanu wrote on Twitter.
Poland midfielder Przemyslaw Frankowski scored the winning goal on 74 minutes, as Lens climbed to second in Ligue 1, unbeaten through six games and three points adrift of Paris Saint-Germain, who were to host Olympique Lyonnais yesterday.
“They told us there had been some incidents between supporters, for us to focus on ourselves and that we would restart,” Lens goalkeeper Jean-Louis Leca said.
“It’s always annoying when supporters come to blows in a football stadium. They too have to set an example because there are kids in the ground,” he added.
Lille have won just once under new coach Jocelyn Gourvennec and lie 13th with only five points.
“I find the defeat harsh because we basically gave nothing away. We were beaten by a half-chance,” said Gourvennec, who replaced Christophe Galtier following his move to Nice in the summer.
“We’re falling behind in the championship by dropping points. We’ve got to do more,” he said.
South Korea forward Hwang Ui-jo scored twice to earn Girondins de Bordeaux their first win of the season — a 2-1 victory away to fellow strugglers AS Saint-Etienne.
Hwang’s opening goal was canceled out by Wahbi Khazri, but he ensured Bordeaux moved off the foot of the table with the winner 10 minutes from time.
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