By Tom Kington at the Stadio Olimpico
AS Roma's UEFA Champions League encounter with visitors Dynamo Kyiv, who were leading 1-0, was abandoned at half-time after referee Anders Frisk was hit by a missile thrown from the crowd.
Roma fans inside the Stadio Olimpico were furious when Frisk issued a straight red card to Philippe Mexes. With the Italian side trailing in their Group B match to Goran Gavrancic's stunning free-kick on 29 minutes, French defender Mexes kicked out at Maris Verpakovskis on the stroke of half-time. Moments later Frisk was hit by an object while walking back to the dressing room.
Roma were returning to Champions League action after a one-year absence, looking to make a solid start to their campaign by taking all three points from their Ukrainian visitors. But they found the opening 45 minutes tough going against a Ukrainian team who have found tremendous form under new coach Joszef Szabo, winning four of their last six matches which has taken them to second place in the Ukrainian Premier League.
Roma coach Rudi Völler suspected Dynamo would field a defensive, counter-attacking side, but Szabo surprised, starting three forwards, Kleber, Verpakovskis and Brazilian Diogo Rincón. The Roma lineup, meanwhile, saw no room for Antonio Cassano, withdrawn hours before the game amid reports of a training-ground row and replaced by Vincenzo Montella, who had staked his claim for a place by scoring Roma's winner on Sunday against ACF Fiorentina, after sitting out most of last season through injury.
With the home side hungrier in the early exchanges, captain Francesco Totti and midfielder Mancini sought out Montella, while Olivier Dacourt and De Rossi held possession in the centre, but Dynamo were probing, with Rincon lurking behind Verpakovskis, Kleber finding room on the left and Oleh Husyev looking to drop in crosses from the right.
The formation then switched in the 12th minute as Kleber popped up on the right, only to see his cross headed wide by Verpakovskis. Badr El Kaddouri was, meanwhile, finding space up the left, his 19th-minute run and pass bringing a high shot from Rincon.
While Dynamo's flexibility left the newly-assembled Roma defense wanting, the home team's reliance on forward balls to Montella looked more and more limited, and it was Dynamo that again came close in the 26th minute as midfielder Jerko Leko released Kleber, now back on the left, who held off two defenders but saw his stinging low shot hit the side netting.
Three minutes later, Serbian defender Goran Gavrancic hit the target, his arching free-kick heading in off the crossbar and leaving goalkeeper Ivan Pellizoli standing. Roma looked to regroup, but never found the fluency of the Ukrainians, with Pelizzoli diving to save a close-range shot from Rincon in the 36th minute, before tipping around a sharp shot from Leko five minutes later. Roma's misery was compounded by the unpleasant scenes which brought a premature close to the evening's action.