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Bundesliga game called off after linesman struck by beer cup




Bochum's Elvis Rexhbecaj and Monchengladbach's Kouadio Kone, right, battle for the ball during the Bundesliga soccer match between VfL Bochum - Borussia M'nchengladbach at the Vonovia Ruhrstadion in Bochum, Germany, Friday March 18, 2022. (Bernd Thissen/dpa via AP)

Bochum’s Elvis Rexhbecaj and Monchengladbach’s Kouadio Kone, right, battle for the ball during the Bundesliga soccer match between VfL Bochum – Borussia M’nchengladbach at the Vonovia Ruhrstadion in Bochum, Germany, Friday March 18, 2022. (Bernd Thissen/dpa via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — A Bundesliga linesman was struck in the back of the head by a plastic beer cup thrown from a crowd, forcing the game between Bochum and Borussia Mönchengladbach to be called off on Friday.

The match was already noteworthy for being the league’s first to be played between teams without coaches as Bochum’s Thomas Reis and Gladbach counterpart Adi Hütter have coronavirus infections.

Gladbach was leading 2-0 through second-half goals from Alassane Plea and Breel Embolo with around 20 minutes remaining when linesman Christian Gittelman was hit from behind by the beer cup.

Gittelman picked the beaker up and threw it aside. He kneeled on the field and rubbed the back of his head, signaling to referee Benjamin Cortus that he was OK, but the match officials all left the field. Gittelman appeared shaken as he crossed the field to leave.

Meanwhile, Bochum players remonstrated angrily with their supporters.

After several minutes the stadium announcer said the game was postponed due to an object thrown from the crowd. He had already appealed to supporters during the game to desist from throwing items onto the field.

“You’re not only damaging yourselves, you’re damaging others and you’re damaging our club,” the announcer said.

Some 15 minutes after the object was thrown, the Gladbach team emerged back onto the field to salute their traveling supporters.

Then the stadium announcer said the game was called off and asked for fans to leave the ground.

“We can only formally apologize to linesman Christian Gittelmann,” Bochum said on Twitter. “A most embarrassing and bitter evening for us. An extremely stupid move.”

Bochum played well after losing three of its last four games. The home team forced the initiative in the first half with Gladbach goalkeeper Yann Sommer doing well to dig out a low shot from Christopher Antwi-Adjei in the 14th minute, and later to stop a header from Armel Bella Kotchap.

After the break, Sommer denied Sebastian Polter before Plea scored against the run of play in the 55th. Luca Netz sent a corner to the unmarked Plea on the edge of the penalty area and the forward’s volley took a deflection on its way through a host of defenders inside the far post.

Sommer made another double save but Embolo got the visitors’ second goal in the 61st.

Few were talking about the goals.

It was the first game called off in the Bundesliga since April 2011, when St. Pauli’s game against Schalke ended in similar circumstances.

“It doesn’t paint a pretty picture,” Gladbach sporting director Roland Virkus said. ”It doesn’t belong here. The atmosphere was good, I thought. Cool stadium, cool atmosphere, good support, actually. And then you just have the end, no one wants to see that.”

Some 25,000 fans attended the game under recently relaxed coronavirus restrictions.

“It’s very, very important that we wish the affected linesman the best and that he recovers quickly, that he doesn’t stay back,” Bochum sporting director Sebastian Schindzielorz said. “Of course it’s a huge shame that the first time we’re allowed play in front of 25,000 spectators, the game doesn’t have a sporting ending. We would have had another 15 or 20 minutes to fight back, but it wasn’t the case unfortunately. It’s a real shame and sad that something like this happened.”

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP




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