LONDON • Merseyside Police have arrested two men from Rome on suspicion of attempted murder, after a man was left with serious injuries following an incident ahead of Liverpool's Champions League semi-final first-leg clash against Roma at Anfield on Tuesday.
Police said in a statement that a 53-year-old man from Ireland had suffered a head injury and was in a critical condition in hospital.
"We believe the victim was in Liverpool with his brother for the Liverpool v Roma semi-final and was assaulted during an altercation between Roma and Liverpool fans near to the Albert pub at about 7.35pm," police said.
"Witnesses report that the victim was hit with a belt and then fell to the ground."
Police said the two Italian men, aged 25 and 26 respectively, had been taken in for questioning.
The BBC reported that a group of Roma supporters had attacked Liverpool fans using belts.
Liverpool, who won the match 5-2, said they had been in touch with the emergency services and would offer any support they could to the fan and his family.
"Our thoughts, in the first instance, are with the victim and his family at this very traumatic time," the club added on their website.
Television images from the BBC showed groups of youths fighting outside the stadium before the game, with one person seen lying in the street and receiving attention while the fighting continued.
One man was filmed carrying a hammer.
Uefa condemned the "vile attack" and said potential disciplinary proceedings could be initiated after detailed reports of the incident are received.
"The perpetrators of this ignominious attack have no place in and around football and we trust they will be dealt with (sic) utmost severity by the authorities," European football's governing body said in a statement.
Roma also said that the "abhorrent behaviour" displayed by a minority of their fans had brought shame to the Italian club.
"The club is now cooperating with Liverpool Football Club, Uefa and the authorities," Roma added.
There were also violent scenes before Liverpool's Champions League quarter-final game against Manchester City at Anfield earlier this month, resulting in the Merseyside club being charged by Uefa for setting off fireworks and crowd disturbances among others.