Shocking scenes as ref injured by smoke grenade thrown on pitch by angry fans during Europa League tie

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DUNA World
A qualifying clash between Honved and Craiova was suspended for over 30 minutes after the referee was struck by an exploding object

A match official was injured after being hit by a smoke grenade thrown from the crowd during a Europa League second qualifying round tie between Universitatea Craiova and Budapest Honved on Thursday night.

A mass brawl erupted among the players and staff a minute before the final whistle was about to be blown to signal the end of extra time, and a smoke bomb was thrown onto the pitch from the stands.

The violent scenes began after Honved players surrounded Craiova striker Carlos Fortes, following his attempts to challenge visiting goalkeeper Attila Berla.

The foreign object struck referee Arnold Hunter, with a lighter also launched from the stands, with the Northern Irish official needing treatment and an ambulance eventually arriving on the pitch meaning the match was halted for over half-an-hour.

Honved manager Giuseppe Sannino seemed to be urging the match officials to call off the contest but after much deliberation, extra-time was resumed.

The match ended goalless after 120 minutes, with the fourth official taking charge of the final minute of the game before also residing over a penalty shootout.

Craiova advanced to the third qualifying round with a 3-1 victory in the shootout, but Honved declared a protest to UEFA after the match.

The Hungarian club released the following statement: "What was unacceptable to our club was what happened at the end of the meeting to put the referee or our players at risk."

The second leg was staged in Romania after the reverse fixture in Gyor also ended goalless on July 25.

Widespread reports before the match suggested that tension between the two sets of rival supporters was reaching boiling point, and that a hostile atmosphere was carried into the Stadionul Ion Oblemenco.

According to M4 Sport, a Hungarian television channel, the game wasn't abandoned entirely at the time of unsavoury incidents because the local police couldn't guarantee the safety of the away players of the officials. 

Should no further action be taken by UEFA in regards to a potential replaying of the match, or expulsion of Universitatea Craiova, they will go on to face AEK Athens in the third qualifying round, with the first leg on August 8.

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