Riot police and Man United fans clash

February 20, 2007

LENS, France, Feb 20 (Reuters) - French riot police sprayed tears gas on Manchester United supporters to dampen crowd trouble during the first half of a Champions League match between Lille and the English Premier League side on Tuesday.

The problems started 15 minutes into the game after a United fan climbed a fence at the Stade Felix-Bollaert to get on to the pitch and approached his team's goalkeeper Edwin Van Der Sar.

Stewards took the supporter back to the stands triggering an angry reaction from other United fans who were distreesed at being pushed against the 10-foot high security fences.

Riot police intervened with truncheons and sprayed tear gas as several supporters tried to climb over the fences.

The game was not stopped and calm returned after a few minutes when two fans, including an elderly woman, were lifted over the barriers to safety.

United secretary Ken Ramsden said the club would meet with officials from European soccer's governing body UEFA and the English FA after the game, which United won 1-0 thanks to a cheeky late freekick by Ryan Giggs, to discuss the incident.

Before the match United expressed concern about the basic facilities at the ground and were surprised Lille were allowed to move the game to the 42,000 capacity stadium in northern France rather than a larger venue like the Stade de France.