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By ESPN Staff

Croatia's Niko Kovac sorry for Croatia fan behaviour in Italy qualifier

Croatia manager Niko Kovac has apologised for the behaviour of his country's fans after their Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy in Milan was disrupted.

With Croatia pushing for a winner as the game entered the final 15 minutes, fireworks and flares began to rain down onto the field of play at the San Siro.

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Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers was forced to halt play for a second time, having stopped proceedings in similar circumstances after Croatia's equaliser, taking the teams off the field as the flares continued to fall.

Play resumed after a delay of 10 minutes after Kovac had attempted to calm down the Croatia fans.

The intervention of police officers saw order restored and the remaining 15 minutes were played without any further disturbance, but at a markedly slower rhythm.

"I've apologised to every single one of the Italy players on the field of play," Kovac said afterwards. "Now I want to extend those apologies to everybody. When things like this happen with our fans, it's unacceptable. Our people are not like this."

After the second, lengthier interruption, many fans decided to leave the stadium.

"Things like this have nothing to do with football and I hope never to see them again," Roberto Soriano said after his Italy debut was overshadowed by the incidents.

"I hope that in future, we can just focus on playing football."

UEFA will open an investigation into what happened. Sanctions are likely both for Croatia -- as it was their fans who caused the disruption -- and Italy, for failing to keep the order.

Anything from a fine to playing games behind closed doors and even being docked points are possible while the game could be awarded as a 3-0 win for Italy.

But Kovac added: "I don't think that will happen."

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