Ajax’s Champions League trip to AEK Athens descended into chaos after a petrol bomb exploded inside the stadium and visiting fans were embroiled in bloody clashes with police and Greek supporters.
The two sides meet in a Group E match in Greece on Tuesday night – but the build up to the game was marred by violence in the stands.
Riot police were deployed to deal with the trouble as a fire raged inside Greece’s Olympic stadium following a shocking explosion ahead of the early kick-off.
A petrol bomb exploded near Ajax fans before their Champions League clash with AEK Athens
Riot police were deployed as the build up to the match was marred by violent clashes
A supporter is pictured throwing a flare towards the stands before the match in Greece
Visiting fans cower from the flames after an explosion before their Champions League clash
Police dispersed AEK fans, who threw plastic bottles and other objects at visiting supporters.
No arrests were immediately reported but Ajax fans were also the target of flares thrown by AEK fans, with one seen brazenly launching a missile into the stands in plain view of riot police standing nearby.
He was then filmed running away from the scene as Ajax fans threw the firework away from danger and into an empty block of seats.
The authorities managed to curb the disorder in time for kick-off, meaning the match went ahead as planned.
One visiting supporter was left with blood pouring down his face after clashes with police
Ajax fans take cover in the wake of the shocking explosion ahead of kick-off on Tuesday night
But earlier riot police had entered the away end, brandishing batons and shields and leaving at least one fan with blood pouring down his face.
As anarchy reigned before kick-off, even players tried to intervene to keep a lid on proceedings.
Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt was pictured over towards the away end to try and prevent further violence.
Though they were surrounded by row upon row of empty seats, Ajax supporters could be seen crammed inside a small section of the stadium.
Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt tries to intervene as disorder broke out ahead of the match
Riot police, wearing helmets and carrying shields, entered the stands to confront Ajax fans
Wire fences stood between them and the pitch, while glass barriers prevented them from escaping – even as they cowered from the explosion.
The shocking scenes follow reports on Monday night that Ajax fans had been involved in clashes after arriving in Greece.
Police also clashed with mostly Greek fans in parts of central Athens earlier on Tuesday and late Monday.
Rival Greek supporters were involved in the violence near the city’s police headquarters. Traffic was blocked after youths hurled petrol bombs at rival supporters and police.
Ajax headed into the game knowing victory would earn them a spot in the last-16, while AEK lost all four of their opening group games.
The authorities try to keep a lid on the disturbances as smoke fills the air in the Greek capital
The clashes did not prevent the Champions League Group E clash going ahead as planned