FC WIT Georgia beat FC Sioni Bolnisi to clinch their first Georgian title in a game spoilt by crowd trouble.
FC WIT Georgia beat FC Sioni Bolnisi 2-0 in a one-off "golden match" on Sunday to clinch their first ever Georgian title, but the game took nearly three hours to complete after violent clashes between rival fans.
Two Sioni fans were taken to hospital with serious wounds after being stabbed in a fight which erupted shortly after Revaz Gotsiridze had given the home team a 1-0 lead in the 30th minute. The game was stopped for about ten minutes as match officials and stadium security tried to restore order. More ugly scenes followed and the match was interrupted on three separate occasions.
Dozens of angry Sioni supporters stormed on to the pitch and attacked the two assistant referees after Vladimer Gochashvili made it 2-0 for WIT in the 77th minute. This time referee Alexandre Krichashvili had to halt the game for more than 40 minutes as he waited for police reinforcements.
Riot police were called in and the match continued, but it was stopped again in the 83rd minute when Krichashvili dismissed two Sioni players for protesting a decision. There was more violence in the stands but the referee was finally able to finish the match, almost three hours after it had started. Police said they had made several arrests and Sioni could face heavy fines or even suspension next week when the Georgian Football Federation have scheduled a disciplinary hearing to look into the incident.
There was a festive atmosphere before the match as several thousand Sioni fans made a two-hour trip to the capital from their small village of only 8,000 inhabitants, hoping to witness their side claim a first major title. The one-off match had to be played after WIT and Sioni ended the league season level on points. Last year's champions, FC Dinamo Tbilisi, finished third.