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Football: Hugh: I was pelted with fag lighters.

Byline: DAVID McCARTHY EXCLUSIVE

HUGH DALLAS last night revealed he was pelted by cigarette lighters as AC Milan's Champions League hopes went up in smoke at the San Siro on Wednesday.

The fallen Italian giants are now facing a ban from playing their European matches at home next season after their fans' behaviour was highlighted in the Scot's report to UEFA.

Dallas infuriated 70,000 Italian fans by awarding Spanish outfit Deportivo La Coruna a 74th-minute penalty that paved the way for Milan's exit.

He also chalked off two Milan goals for offside - but TV proved that his Scottish assistants Wilson Irvine and James McBride were correct.

Dallas awarded the Italians a spot-kick of their own in the dying minutes and, although Andriy Shevchenko converted, the 1-1 draw wasn't enough to see them clinch a last-eight slot.

The Motherwell whistler arrived back in Scotland yesterday with his report already winging its way to UEFA HQ in Nyon, Switzerland.

The games rulers are almost certain to take a tough stance, having already hit AC's city rivals Inter with a two-game home ban for almost identical behaviour when their supporters caused the late abandonment of their UEFA Cup tie against Alaves two weeks ago in the same stadium.

Last night Dallas, who suffered a head wound from a coin thrown by Celtic fans in the Old Firm title decider in May 1999, admitted the behaviour of the Milan support was well out of line.

He said: "You know that if you give a penalty against the home team over there, the fans are not going to applaud.

"Thankfully, nothing hit any of the officials but plenty of water bottles, fruit and even cigarette lighters were being thrown onto the pitch.

"My assistants were on the sidelines and might have been more in the firing line, but the stadium is so high that the missiles were landing quite far onto the pitch.

"It seems to be acceptable behaviour in some countries, but I have included details in my report to UEFA and I believe the UEFA delegate, who was at the game, has also included details in his report."

Milan's exit cost coach Alberto Zaccheroni his job yesterday and he will be replaced by Cesare Maldini - father of AC defender Paolo.

Milan's Rino Gattuso reckons Dallas had a shocker in the San Siro on Tuesday - but the former Rangers midfielder still thinks he is one of the best in the business.

The Italy internationalist said: "For me, it wasn't a penalty for Deportivo and there was a foul on Serginho earlier on in the game which should have been a penalty.

"However, I am a good friend of Dallas. During 18 months in Scotland, he refereed me four or five times and he once sent me off. I think he is a very good referee."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 15, 2001
Words:472
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