Police investigate after Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira lashes out at pitch-invading fan

  • Martin Stew's report contains some violent imagery

Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira appeared to kick a fan who was taunting him on the pitch after his side's 3-2 defeat to Everton at Goodison Park on Thursday evening.

Everton's dramatic comeback after being 2-0 down at half time saw thousands of fans stream on to the field at the final whistle. Footage shows Vieira confronted by a fan who appears to repeatedly gesture in the Frenchman’s face as he made his way across the pitch to the away side's dressing room.

Vieira responds by first grabbing the man and then swinging a kick at him before other supporters come to his aid and usher him away.

Merseyside Police confirmed it is investigating the incident and is working with Everton to gather footage.

A force spokesman said: “Merseyside Police is investigating an altercation on the pitch at Goodison Park following the Everton v Crystal Palace match on Thursday.

“We are working with Everton FC to gather all available CCTV footage and are speaking to witnesses.

“No formal complaint has been received and enquiries into the incident are ongoing.”

Police said four men were arrested and one officer was treated for smoke inhalation as fans ran onto the pitch and set off flares to celebrate Everton’s victory.

The Football Association is also likely to investigate the Vieira incident, along with an 85th-minute pitch invasion.

Vieira did not comment on the altercation at a post-match press conference, but Everton counterpart Frank Lampard offered his support.

“I feel for Patrick. I didn’t get him at the end. I would have said, ‘come in with us’ – although he might not have wanted that.

“Of course he ran 80 yards across the pitch and it’s not easy.”

On the pitch invasion itself Lampard said: “It was pure elation of fans who have come on the pitch after avoiding relegation.

“If it is done in the right way let them stay on the pitch, let them have their moment. As long as they behave, no problem.”

Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira appears to aim a kick at a fan who was following him on the pitch Credit: Sky Sports

In a week when a football supporter was jailed for assaulting a player on the pitch, the latest invasion at Everton provoked further worrying scenes at grounds up and down the country.

A week in pitch invasions

  • Tuesday: A Nottingham Forest season-ticket holder, Robert Biggs, was jailed for 24 weeks after he deliberately charged at Sheffield United player Billy Sharp at the City Ground on Tuesday, headbutting him and knocking him to the ground.

  • Wednesday: At Northampton on Wednesday night, a man came onto the field and barged into Mansfield’s Jordan Bowery during the League Two play-off semi-final second leg.

  • Thursday: Port Vale triumphed on penalties over Swindon to qualify for the League Two play-off final at Wembley later this month but their successful night was overshadowed by another horrible situation involving supporters and players. After Ellis Iandolo missed from the spot for Town, Vale fans charged onto the pitch to celebrate but some immediately ran over to the away side, with video footage appearing to show punches thrown at Swindon players.

  • Thursday: Ugly scenes with incidents at Goodison Park, where Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira was involved in an apparent altercation with an Everton supporter after fans spilled onto the pitch.

Everton fans celebrate on the pitch after Thursday's 3-2 victory against Crystal Palace at Goodison Park

Accrington chairman Andy Holt warned the pitch invasions are a “disaster” for football and could lead to increased ticket prices to help cover additional security costs or even the return of physical barriers.

Holt addressed the issue faced by clubs to balance between supporter safety and security on the pitch.

“The safety plan is that in the event of a problem fans access the pitch if needs be,” he said in a Twitter post.

“What do we do? We know full well fixed physical barriers can end in awful disaster. It’s unreasonable to expect decent stewards to hold back 100s.”

Port Vale fans invade the pitch after victory in the penalty shoot-out

Outside of the post-match scenes, Frank Lampard ranked escaping relegation as “possibly at the top” of his managerial career after Everton secured their top-flight status with one match to spare.

Poor defending allowed Jean-Philippe Mateta and Jordan Ayew both to score inside 36 minutes but a fierce comeback in the second half saw Michael Keane and Richarlison equalise before Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s header five minutes from the whistle took Everton into the lead.

“It’s right up there, possibly at the top,” said Lampard, who qualified for the Champions League with Chelsea. "We had an amazing night at Leeds with Derby but this feeling was special: we didn’t win anything tonight but the feeling is special.”

The Toffees will play in the top flight for a 69th consecutive campaign – only Arsenal currently have a longer run with their 97th campaign coming up.

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