Last updated : 24 May 2007 By editor

The Times reports:

'No one can really say whether the problems that occurred outside the Olympic Stadium were inevitable, unavoidable or simply the fault of the ticketless Liverpool fans who tried to storm through the gates. But with security guards weeding out hundreds for possessing forged tickets, the Greek police were prepared for what came at them.

'There were two incidents that took place just as the match was starting yesterday. Outside the outer ring, police in riot gear had to use teargas and batons to repel a group of fans who had tried to storm a gate. At about the same time, closer to the stadium, a group of 500 fans also tried to charge their way through a gate. The police there responded by simply shutting the gates, although they were forced to let a few fans through when the crush became dangerous. In both these incidents, Greek police reported that it was largely Liverpool fans involved.

'The frustration of many of the fans would explain much of what happened outside the stadium. The small allocation of tickets to each club was known long before anyone reached Athens, but another issue has been the quantity of forged tickets that have been on the market. Police made 97 arrests for people possessing or selling forgeries, but they did not come close to burying the problem.

'Others had paid £100 for what they knew were forgeries but they hoped might get them through. "What have you got?" one fan asked another as they jostled in the first queue. "A piece of paper that's as good as a piece of s***e," he replied before turning to his teenage son. "Don't worry, lad, we'll get in. It's the European Cup final, we always get in." And how were they intending to do so? "We're going to steam the c***s," he explained.

'Many of them did clearly succeed in getting in illegally because the Liverpool end last night was packed to the point where many feared it was becoming dangerous. The police were aware of a vast excess of bodies in the lower tier. When the game was still 30 minutes from starting, some fans at Gate 35 were screaming at stewards to stop letting any more people in.'