The final match of Hibernian’s preseason tour of southern Europe was last night overshadowed by violent clashes between supporters.
Fans of both sides made the trip to Portugal in their droves and, with an English/Scottish emnity evident, there was an ugly atmosphere inside the tiny ground.
Sectarian chanting was also clearly audible as supporters confronted each other at the makeshift metal barriers which split the main stand.
Heavy-handed attempts by baton-wielding local police to calm matters only exacerbated the situation and riot police quickly arrived. That lit the blue touch paper and, on 35 minutes, violence erupted. Forest fans pushed through the barriers, which were quickly used as weaponry, being thrown by supporters.
Riot police waded in mercilessly, with both sets of fans struck, including one elderly Hibs fan and a Forest supporter who was clearly bloodied.
Calm was restored before half time, with Forest fans penned into a small area of the main stand by police. Thankfully, there did not appear to be any serious injuries.
It turned events on the pitch into something of an afterthought.
In the 30-degree heat Hibs captain James McPake was drafted into the starting line-up after being rested for Wednesday’s 3-1 win over Gibraltar.
However, Kevin Thomson, whom the capital club are keen to sign on the club’s return to Edinburgh, was rested.
Ahead of the violence, Forest fans saw their side claim the lead after 26 minutes, with Dexter Blackstock firing a superb penalty kick into the roof of the net after being brought down by Lewis Stevenson.
The second half was played out in a rather eerie atmosphere, given the violent scenes before the break.
However, there were moments to rouse each set of fans. Firstly, Owain Tudur Jones netted his first goal since joining Hibs from Inverness, calmly slotting home after an incisive Danny Handling pass.
But the joy was fleeting as Billy Davies’ Championship outfit immediately regained the lead.
Striker Ishmael Miller had too much pace for the Hibs back-line and, when played through one-on-one with Ben Williams, managed to bundle the ball into the net to clinch victory.