Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech says the disruption caused by Croatia fans throwing flares onto the pitch helped his Czech Republic claim a dramatic 2-2 draw at Euro 2016.
With Croatia 2-1 up, referee Mark Clattenberg briefly halted play when flares thrown from the Croatian fan block landed on the pitch, just as the 90 minutes were up.
When the match resumed, Croatia defender Domagoj Vida was penalised for handball and Tomas Necid drilled home the 94th-minute penalty to claim their first point in Group D.
“I’m terribly happy we managed to equalise, I must say the pause due to their fans helped us too,” said the 34-year-old Cech after the match in Saint-Etienne.
“They were in control at that time and they suddenly lost rhythm and we could capitalise on that.
“We regained composure and although they had some counter-attacks (before the pause), from that moment on they didn’t have anything,” added the ex-Chelsea shot-stopper.
Uefa have already said they will investigate the crowd trouble.
Immediately after the Czech penalty, punches were seen being thrown as Croatian fans briefly fought amongst themselves on the terraces.
Croatia coach Ante Cacic has branded the supporters responsible as ‘sports terrorists’ with his country’s football federation bracing themselves for a heavy fine.
Croatia were stripped of one point in qualifying, forced to play two home matches behind closed doors and fined €100 000 by Uefa after a swastika was painted on the field before a match against Italy in June 2015 in Split.
They were also charged by Uefa for “field invasions by supporters” when a fan ran on the pitch to celebrate Luka Modric’s winning goal in a 1-0 victory over Turkey in Group D on Sunday.