Villa Park
The away section of Villa Park was empty during Legia Warsaw's visit to Aston Villa due to the actions of the away side's supporters before the match. Carl Recine/Reuters

Unsavoury and violent scenes took place on Thursday night prior to Aston Villa's UEFA Europa Conference League group stage fixture with Polish side, Legia Warsaw, at Villa Park.

Roughly 2,000 Legia Warsaw supporters were involved in hostile encounters with the West Midlands Police near Villa Park as flares and missiles were thrown in the direction of the officers. The clashes went on for 90 minutes as the officers on duty fought to keep the Legia Warsaw fans away from the ground.

The reason for the clashes boiled down to Aston Villa cutting down on the number of allocated tickets for the away side after being recommended to do so by a safety advisory group. Initially, 1,700 tickets were to be allocated to the Legia Warsaw fans but due to their misbehaviour and clashes with police when they travelled to face the Dutch side, AZ Alkmaar, in October, the allocation was cut down to 1002.

This was not taken well by Legia Warsaw as they believed their supporters were being restricted access to the match and the Polish club failed to communicate with Aston Villa over the likelihood of ticketless fans making their way to Villa Park for the game. Legia Warsaw's owner and other senior executives chose to boycott the game and not attend as a result of fewer tickets being allocated.

The fallout from the clashes saw four police officers get injured with one suffering a concussion and inhaling smoke after a flare hit her. Also, two police dogs and two police horses suffered injuries due to the disturbances that unfolded.

Due to the acts of violence from the Legia Warsaw fans before kick-off, they were not granted access to the ground and the game went ahead without their presence. However, some did smuggle their way into Villa Park and were present in the home sections of the ground but were eventually escorted out by stewards.

A reported 46 Legia Warsaw supporters were arrested and held in custody by West Midlands Police due to committing crimes ranging from possession of violent disorder, assaulting emergency workers and carrying dangerous weapons including knives.

Chief Inspector, Tim Robinson, touched on why Legia Warsaw supporters had to be banned from entering Villa Park. He said: "Due to the extreme violence, there was no other choice but to prevent away fans entering the stadium. The safety of everyone is our priority, and clearly, we had no other option."

Robinson added: "There can never be a place for such appalling behaviour, and this is something ourselves and the wider community should never have to experience."

Aston Villa released an official statement after the match highlighting the difficulty the club faced with cooperating with their opponents prior to the game.

It read: "In spite of numerous requests for cooperation from Legia Warsaw concerning their travelling supporters, no assistance on the serious safety matter of away fans attending Villa Park was forthcoming from the visiting club."

The club statement went on to add: "Aston Villa strongly condemns the behaviour of those visiting supporters and would like to thank West Midlands Police for their professionalism in very difficult circumstances."

Aston Villa won the game 2-1 after Alex Moreno's well-taken finish restored the home side's lead and was the game-winner in the 58th minute. Unai Emery's side had already qualified for the Europa Conference League knockout round prior to kick-off due to AZ Alkmaar defeating Zrinjski Mostar earlier in the day and now sit top of Group E with one group game remaining.

Elsewhere, Brighton & Hove Albion supporters were caught in an unfortunate situation during their trip away to Greek side, AEK Athens, in their UEFA Europa League clash on Thursday.

The police used tear gas to steer the home supporters out of the stadium as they refused to leave after the final whistle, which inadvertently caused some distress to Brighton fans as the tear gas spread to the away section.

Brighton ran out 1-0 winners in Athens thanks to a second-half penalty by Joao Pedro. The victory secures qualification to the knockout stages for Roberto De Zerbi's side and continues a remarkable first season in European competition for Brighton.