Anfield was an unbridled force of nature on Tuesday night, playing a major role in carrying Liverpool to an emphatic 3-0 win over Manchester City in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinal. Not even the gates of the stadium were able to contain the Red passion, as crowds spilled out into the streets along Anfield Road to meet their opponents on the journey to Merseyside and to let them know that they were wrong to underestimate the influence of the grounds.
It was an exhilarating atmosphere only witnessed one other time in the Jürgen Klopp era in the heart-pounding triumph over Borussia Dortmund. However, this latest chapter in the story of Fortress Anfield has not come without a price as incidents of overexuberance by a segment of the Liverpool supporters have now been met with censure by UEFA.
The competition’s governing body has accused the club of not doing enough to control fans before and during the clash with the Citizens, levying a total of four charges. UEFA has cited Article 16 of the competition’s disciplinary regulations relating to the behavior of supporters with the four charges relating to acts of damage, crowd disturbance, the throwing of objects, and the setting off of fireworks.
The former two charges have to do with incidents that caused the Manchester City team bus to sustain so much damage that the vehicle was rendered unusable, necessitating a replacement bus to be brought to ferry the team home after the game. Inside the grounds, Liverpool were noted to have thrown objects in the direction of the opposing fans and set of fireworks.
The club sought to get out ahead of the situation prior to kickoff, issuing a statement of apology for the behavior of the select fans:
”The club condemns in the strongest possible terms the scenes which preceded our Champions League quarter-final, which resulted in damage being inflicted on the Manchester City team bus during their arrival at Anfield,” the statement read.
The Merseyside Police, who suffered injuries to two of their officers in the commotion, were also unequivocal in their condemnation of the violence, issuing their own statement that the behavior was “completely unacceptable” and that they would “be conduct[ing] enquiries to identify who was responsible and bring them to justice.”
Although the City players were adamant that the fan hostility had no effect on their performance, manager, Pep Guardiola expressed surprise at the reception, admitting that he “did not expect that from the Liverpool side.”
Any sanctions that come from the incident will not be implemented until next season as the case is not set to be heard by the UEFA disciplinary body until May 31 after the Champions League final.