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Two pitch invaders come forward after A-League disgrace

At least two of the nine men being sought by Victoria Police over Saturday’s violent pitch invasion at the A-League Melbourne derby have made themselves known to investigators.

Melbourne Victory fans invade the pitch during the A-League match against Melbourne City. Photo: AAP/Will Murray

Melbourne Victory fans invade the pitch during the A-League match against Melbourne City. Photo: AAP/Will Murray

The invasion of the Melbourne Victory/Melbourne City football clash left a player, a referee and a TV cameraman injured.

Images of nine men released on Sunday night showed one holding a bucket of sand, another holding a lit flare in the stands and another hanging from a goal post.

Two men have now been identified after coming forward to police.

“Investigations remain ongoing,” Victoria Police said in a statement on Sunday evening.

No arrests have been made so far.

Earlier on Sunday, Victoria Police Acting Superintendent Jason Goddard branded the behaviour of the alleged pitch invaders as “disgraceful”.

“I myself, I love my football, I am very saddened by what I saw,” he said.

The ugly scenes during the match between Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City at AAMI Park resulted in the game being abandoned in the 20th minute after Victory fans stormed the pitch.

One man was seen throwing a metal bucket full of sand used to dispose of flares.

The bucket hit the head of City goalkeeper Tom Glover, who suffered a cut to his head requiring stitches and leaving him with a suspected concussion.

Referee Alex King, who went to protect Glover, was also struck by the bucket.

Earlier, a flare hit the Network 10 TV cameraman in the back of the head, which police said left him with a contusion and burned clothing.

The outbreak of violence made worldwide news and Victory issued a late-night apology to those affected.

Acting Superintendent Goddard said 134 police were present at AAMI Park, more than they’d usually have at the MCG.

“That should be enough for any game,” he said.

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“We knew there were inherent risks due to some of the fan behaviour in previous weeks.”

Football Australia, which manages judiciary matters, has promised heavy penalties and “strong sanctions” against those found to be responsible.

Both sets of fans had planned to walk out at the 20-minute mark as part of a protest over the Australian Professional Leagues’ decision to sell the next three grand finals to Sydney.

The crowd chanted “f*** the APL” while unfurling banners pre-game and during the match, and throwing flares onto the playing arena.

But the situation escalated when a flare from the Victory active area hit the cameraman and exploded, and Glover picked up another flare off the ground and threw it back into the stands.

About 150 fans stormed the pitch at about 8pm on Saturday.

Players from both teams were rushed down the tunnel after Glover and King were injured, while fans were swinging from the goal at the Victory end of the ground.

The game was suspended for close to 45 minutes before officials made the decision to abandon the fixture.

Socceroos legend Mark Schwarzer was among a string of football figures who condemned the violence.

“What is wrong with people? It happens time & time again,” he posted on Twitter.

-AAP

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