LIVERPOOL (REUTERS/AFP) - Liverpool have apologised to Manchester City after bottles were thrown at the visitors' team bus as they arrived at Anfield for the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday (April 4).
Liverpool fans had organised a "coach welcome" for their Premier League rivals and their own team, lining a side street where the team buses were known to be arriving at the ground. They let off red flares and sang their club's songs before the City coach arrived and beer cans and bottles were thrown at the bus. Windows were broken and two police officers were injured by missiles. The Guardian reported that the driver's door was smashed.
The bus was reportedly rendered unusable by the damage and City had to send for another for the short 55km journey home.
"We apologise unreservedly to Pep Guardiola, his players, staff and officials caught up in the incident," Liverpool said in a statement. "The behaviour of a number of individuals was completely unacceptable and the club will cooperate fully with the authorities to identify those responsible."
City manager Pep Guardiola, who had been warned about the hostile reception his side would receive in his pre-match press conference on Tuesday, queried why more protection was not offered to his players, who eventually lost the match 3-0.
He also suggested more protection should be given to team buses in general with this latest attack coming a year after a bomb attack on Borussia Dortmund's bus ahead of their Champions League quarter-final against Monaco. That attack left Dortmund's Marc Bartra with a fractured wrist and a police officer with hearing loss.
"Normally when the police know that is going to happen, they try to avoid it happening. I did not expect that from the Liverpool side, from the people," the Spaniard said.
"One year ago, something happened in Dortmund," he said, referring to the attack.
"We come here to play football and I don't understand this kind of situation," he said, adding that no players had been hurt.
"Nothing happen, the bus is destroyed. I didn't expect that a club as prestigious as Liverpool would do these kind of things. Of course, it is not Liverpool, it is the people - it was only one, only two, only three. Hopefully, it doesn't happen again."
Merseyside Police said they would launch an investigation to find the culprits of what they described as "appalling" behaviour.
"Thankfully no one on the bus was injured, but injuries were caused to two of our officers when projectiles were thrown towards the bus," said match commander superintendent Paul White in a statement.
"This behaviour by a number of people who threw bottles, cans and pyrotechnics towards the bus is completely unacceptable and we will conduct enquiries to identify who was responsible and bring them to justice.
"We worked very closely with both clubs to ensure the safety of the public and the teams themselves, and it is disappointing to see that a number of people behaved in this appalling way."
European football's governing body Uefa is likely to investigate the incident and Liverpool could face financial sanctions.