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Hearts friendly against Almería abandoned after player ‘altercations’

<span>Photograph: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

A mid-season friendly between Hearts and Spanish side Almería was abandoned in the first half following on-pitch altercations involving the two sets of players.

The score was 1-0 to the Spanish side when a late challenge from Alex Cochrane on an Almería defender, caused his opponent to push back before teammates from both sides joined the melee. Cochrane was sent off alongside Almería’s Rodrigo Ely following their involvement.

Coaching staff became involved while the match officials tried to calm the situation, although a truce could not be reached and it was decided to curtail proceedings in Marbella.

Hearts tweeted: “Following altercations between both sets of players, the decision has been made to abandon the match.”

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson said: “It was a very competitive game and then, all of a sudden, there was a tackle from Alex [Cochrane], which I thought was a standard tackle and then all hell broke loose with their players running round it, forearm smashes from their centre-half on Alex.

“I think the ref just totally lost control of it; benches were over and there were about 60 people on the pitch. It was a bit of a shambles so we just felt, it’s a pre-season game, we’ve already got injuries, so there is no point carrying on because I think tensions were extremely high, to say the least.

“There’s always going to be a competitive edge but there’s a line that can’t be crossed, and I think they crossed it several times. The referee didn’t have any control of it, he was all over the shop. We just felt there was no point.”

Dyego Sousa had scored the opener for Almería before the incident taking place in Marbella. Hearts previously lost another friendly in Spain 4-0 to Blackburn.