Manchester City's players don't blame their Champions League defeat on the attack on their bus. City boss Pep Guardiola had earlier expressed surprise at the incident, given the bomb attack on Dortmund's bus last year.
In the hours before Liverpool's 3-0 dismantling of City in the Champions League, the visiting side's bus was pelted with bottles and cans by fans as it made its way towards the stadium. Two police officers were injured in the incident, which UEFA will investigate.
Liverpool released a statement condemning those fans involved and "apologized unreservedly to Pep Guardiola, his players, staff and officials caught up in the incident." Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp also said sorry to his opposite number ahead of the match.
Guardiola accepted the apologies but admitted that the attacks came as something of a shock, referencing the bomb attack on Borussia Dortmund's bus in last year's Champions League which injured defender Marc Bartra.
"We didn't expect that, after what happened in Dortmund last season," the Spaniard said. "I know it's not Liverpool. I know as a club they are much bigger than this. Hopefully, it doesn't happen again."
There was some suggestion that the attack might have impacted City's players as they conceded three goals in 19 first-half minutes and failed to land a glove on a Liverpool side that is 18 points behind them in the Premier League.
"The bus incident had no effect on us," City captain Vincent Kompany said. "Not really. We have experienced that before."
Former Wolfsburg midfielder Kevin De Bruyne agreed with his fellow Belgian. “It was OK," he said. "I don’t mind supporters doing that – I’ve had it a couple of times for my team and it’s a nice feeling. Breaking windows is probably not done but who am I to say something? I am fine with it as long as no one gets hurt. It doesn’t change anything [for the players]. As long as you keep the violence down, there’s nothing wrong with it."
The driver's door was destroyed in the attack and City's bus has been put out of commission. UEFA have yet to launch an investigation but British police are looking into the scenes.
"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. "The officers and stewards are there to protect the public and keep them safe.
"This behavior 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
The second leg of the tie will be played in Manchester next Wednesday.
mp/rc (AFP, Reuters)