MALABO (Reuters) - The African Nations Cup semi-final resumed after a break of over 30 minutes on Thursday as most of the crowd were forced from the stands amid violent scenes after missiles rained down from angry Equatorial Guinea fans.
Ghana supporters sought refuge on the pitch wityh their team leading 3-0 in a tempestuous semi-final at the Nuevo Estadio de Malabo against the tournament hosts.
Teargas was fired as riot police tried to control the home supporters while Ghana fans, corralled into an enclosure to the side of the 15,000 capacity stadium, spilt onto the field and amassed behind the goal as they fled a deluge of water bottles and cans.
A helicopter flew over the stands in a bid to force the spectators out with at least one fan falling dangerously over a barrier. It was not immediately known if there were any injuries.
Equatorial Guinea fans had started throwing objects onto the field after their side went behind to a controversial 42nd minute penalty.
Ghana players had to be protected by riot police using plastic shields as they left the field at the end of the first half and the second period was delayed by two minutes as home fans aimed plastic bottles and tin cans at Ghana’s bench.
The Confederation of African Football used the public address system to threaten to call off the game if the crowd at the Nuevo Estadio de Malabo did not stop pelting Ghana’s players.
Later there were also appeals for calm from Equatorial Guinea captain Emilio Nsue and the country’s sports minister.
The second half was halted briefly, first, as a linesman had to flee infield to escape more missiles from the angry crowd and again eight minutes from time when Ghana supporters sought sanctuary on the field after coming under attack from locals.
The players remained on the field with the referee as officials struggled to bring order. The delay went on for 34 minutes before play was resumed.
Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Ken Ferris