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Pitch invasion ends France match

An Algerian supporter runs past French star Youri Djorkaeff, centre
An Algerian supporter runs past French star Youri Djorkaeff, centre  

PARIS, France -- A pitch invasion by Algerian supporters has forced the first ever football match between France and Algeria to be abandoned.

The friendly match before a large crowd at the Stade de France in Paris ended after hundreds of Algerians ran on to the pitch from behind a goal with 17 minutes remaining.

Riot police were deployed and the playing surface was eventually cleared, but debris continued to rain down on police officers as many Algeria fans danced on the athletics track surrounding the pitch.

France defender Lilian Thuram almost came to blows with an Algerian fan, while spectators in the VIP and press seats were hurt by objects thrown by the supporters.

France had been leading 4-1 when the game was called off.

The country has a large Algerian population. Algeria, a former French colony, gained independence in 1962 after a four-year war.

The UK Press Association reported that before the game, Paris police had received a death threat aimed at Zinedine Zidane, France's Marseille-born star.

The Real Madrid player was born in Marseille, but his parents hail from the Kabylie region of Algeria.

During the match, Vincent Candela had given the world and European football champions the lead after 19 minutes, before Emmanuel Petit doubled the advantage just past the half-hour mark.

Arsenal's Thierry Henry made it 3-0 five minutes before the break and -- although Djamel Belmadi scored for Algeria before half-time -- another Arsenal player, Robert Pires, made the score 4-1 later.


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