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Horse suffers burns as fans clash


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A police horse suffered burns after being struck by a firework during violent clashes between rival football fans, which saw 29 arrests by police.


The horse was injured after being hit before the match between Sunderland and Newcastle. A police officer suffered a broken wrist separating rival fans.


Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton had missiles thrown at him and fans invaded the pitch during and after the match.


Police are studying CCTV footage to try to identify troublemakers.


Ch Supt Neil Mackay, head of Northumbria Police's Operations Unit, said: "The vast majority of fans behaved well.


"Twenty-nine arrests out of a capacity crowd is still low and I would like to thank all the stewards involved for their assistance."


Many of those arrested were held for going on to the pitch at Sunderland's Stadium of Light.


Some fans ran on to the playing surface during the game with Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given being subject to verbal abuse.


Meanwhile, missiles were thrown from the crowd at Joey Barton as he warmed-up on the touchline. Police asked him to continue his exercises in the technical area to prevent further trouble.


At the end of the game a large group of fans raced from the stands and more fighting broke out.


Ch Supt Mackay said: "There will be a post-match inquiry to identify and arrest those who committed offences and I would particularly appeal for the public to identify the people responsible for throwing fireworks.


"It is difficult to comprehend the mentality of this. It is only through good fortune that the rider and horse and those nearby did not suffer serious injury."


The female rider of the horse was saved from injury by her helmet, a police spokesperson added.


The match ended in a 2-1 victory for Sunderland, their first victory over Newcastle at the Stadium of Light.



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