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Liverpool fans greeted by 'Murderers' banner in Manchester

Sign that greeted Liverpool fans coming into Manchester
Sign that greeted Liverpool fans coming into Manchester

Liverpool fans arriving for their side's Europa League last-16 second leg against arch-rivals Manchester United were greeted with a 'Murderers' banner on the outskirts of the city.

The slur was tied to a sheet on a bridge over the M602 in Salford, just a couple of miles from Old Trafford and a route used by many Merseyside-based supporters heading to the game.

It also contained the date of the Hillsborough disaster, in which 96 Liverpool fans died at the FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest.

During last week's first leg at Anfield, won 2-0 by the hosts, a number of offensive chants in reference to the tragedy were sung by a large section of the away end.

Manchester United condemned the chants but UEFA took no disciplinary action as no reference to the chants were made in the Spanish match officials' reports.

"It has always been the position of Manchester United that chants of this nature, which refer to historical tragedies, have no place in the game and do not reflect the values the club holds," said United's statement on Friday.

"We are in discussion with our fans' groups to seek their support in preventing this type of behaviour in the future."

Greater Manchester Police were alerted to the motorway banner and swiftly took it down.

"Police made aware of offensive banner that was hanging over the M602," GMP said on their Twitter account.

"Officers immediately dispatched and banner now taken down."

Inside the stadium one banner in the away end bearing the words 'Hang the Roma 4' - in reference to United supporters convicted in 2007 of fighting with police in the Italian capital who subsequently had their jail sentences cut on appeal - was also quickly removed.

Midway through the second half there were two very faint separate 'murderers' chant from the Stretford End but both died out almost before they had got started.

In the closing minutes of the game a minor scuffle broke out in the top tier of the East Stand when a handful of Liverpool fans, sat among home supporters, unfurled a flag in club colours - much to the delight of the visiting supporters below them - but stewards moved in swiftly to isolate the group and prevent a further escalation.