Police have arrested 24 people after trouble flared at the Tyne and Wear football derby between Sunderland and Newcastle United.
There were ugly scenes after the final whistle of the Premier League clash as rival fans hurled seats at each other.
Manager Steve Bruce has praised the Sunderland fans who handed over to police the pitch invader who confronted Newcastle keeper Steve Harper during Sunday afternoon’s derby clash.
The supporter ran from behind the goal and appeared to push the 35-year-old to the ground in the immediate aftermath of Asamoah Gyan’s injury-time equaliser as the Black Cats snatched a draw at the Stadium of Light.
The Black Cats boss said: “All I saw was Steve Harper on the floor. I didn’t know what had happened at the time. I would like say a ‘well done’ to the Sunderland fans who gave the kid up – and he is a kid, that’s what I can’t understand either, the age of the lad.”
Northumbria Police said the majority of fans behaved well but a small number were intent on causing trouble.
Around 48,000 supporters attended the match at the Stadium of Light where there was a large police presence.
Despite warnings to troublemakers in the run up to the game, some fans still caused problems, police said. A spokesman said 24 arrests were made before, during and immediately after the match for offences including drunk and disorderly, disorderly conduct and going into the playing area.
Temporary Chief Superintendent Steve Neill, Match Commander, said: “The crowd was mainly good natured and the overwhelming majority wanted nothing more than to enjoy the action on the pitch in an atmosphere free from violence and disorder. However, there were still some troublemakers who were determined to spoil things for the genuine fans.
“We had anticipated the potential for disorder and had the resources in place to deal with it swiftly and firmly. The policing operation went well and I would like to commend the actions and professionalism of all the officers involved who managed to diffuse a number of difficult situations. I would also like to thank the stewards for their assistance.”