Birmingham man arrested after Jack Grealish pitch attack in Aston Villa win

 smh.com.au  03/10/2019 20:56:34 

Coward arrested for pitch attack on Aston Villa star

Aston Villa's Jack Grealish had the last laugh on Sunday (Monday AEDT) by scoring the winning goal in a 1-0 derby win over bitter rivals Birmingham City after he was attacked on the pitch by a fan in a shocking incident.

A man was arrested for punching the midfielder in the first half of the Birmingham derby in the second-tier English Championship.

Disgraceful: Screengrab taken from Sky Sports Football of a fan attacking Aston Villa's Jack Grealish in Birmingham.

Disgraceful: Screengrab taken from Sky Sports Football of a fan attacking Aston Villa's Jack Grealish in Birmingham.Credit:PA

The man, who was wearing a Birmingham City jacket, ran onto the pitch from the home section of the club's St Andrew's stadium.

He then blew kisses to the crowd as he was led away by stewards.

"Following the incident on the pitch involving an attack on an Aston Villa player; a man has been arrested and [is] en route to a custody block," West Midlands Police said on Twitter.

Aston Villa said they were "appalled by the disgraceful attack" on Grealish, adding that a "red line has been crossed by this cowardly on-field assault on a player, which is unprecedented in English football.

"We trust the perpetrator will feel the full force of the law and the authorities investigate the circumstances surrounding today's deplorable incident," the club said in a statement.

Birmingham apologised to both Grealish and Villa in a statement of their own and banned the fan for life.

"What happened has no place in football or society," the club added.

"Jack is a Birmingham lad and regardless of club allegiance should not have been subjected to this - there are no excuses."

The incident follows another on Friday where a fan confronted Rangers captain James Tavernier on the pitch during the Scottish Premiership game with Hibernian in Edinburgh.

Grealish had the last laugh for Aston Villa.

Grealish had the last laugh for Aston Villa.Credit:PA

Grealish scored in the 67th minute, and was booked for his subsequent celebrations, as ninth-placed Villa kept their play-off hopes alive.

"The EFL condemns the mindless actions of the individual who encroached on to the pitch at St Andrew's on Sunday afternoon," said the governing English Football League.

"It's a situation no player should ever be faced with.

"Whilst this incident falls within the remit of the Football Association, we will work with all the relevant parties to address the issue of player and match officials' safety on the pitch and ensure the appropriate action is taken."

A second pitch invasion took place hours later at Emirates Stadium as Arsenal beat Manchester United 2-0.

A man ran onto the field and made contact with United's Chris Smalling moments after Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a penalty.

He then made his way towards the celebrating Arsenal players with arms aloft before being taken away by stewards.

DPA

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