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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Finland Striker's Jaw Broken in Attack

Unknown assailants attacked Finland striker Alexei Eremenko and broke his jaw in central Moscow after his football club lost to Russian Premier League champion Zenit St. Petersburg, football officials said Tuesday.

Eremenko was attacked at around 1 a.m. Monday after he left a party thrown by his club, Saturn Ramenskoye, to celebrate the end of the season, Saturn spokesman Mikhail Pukshansky said.

Hours earlier, Zenit had defeated the Moscow-region team to capture its first national championship in more than 20 years.

Pukshansky declined to give further details about the attack but said Eremenko would undergo minor surgery on his jaw Wednesday in Zhukovsky, 40 kilometers southeast of Moscow. He said a complaint had been filed with city police and that Moscow region Governor Boris Gromov's office had promised to keep a close watch on the investigation.

A city police spokesman said he had no information about the attack. A woman who answered the phone at Gromov's press service said no one was available to comment.

Eremenko, 24, moved to Finland when he was 6 and his father, a former striker for Spartak Moscow, signed to play with a Helsinki club. Eremenko has dual citizenship and plays for the Finnish national team. With eight goals, he was the team's leading scorer in the Nordic country's World Cup qualifiers last year.

The injuries Eremenko sustained in the attack will force him to miss Finland's final two Euro 2008 qualifiers this month, Finnish Football Association spokesman Timo Walden said by telephone from Helsinki.

"We've lost a player in a very sad way, but we are happy that it is a small surgery and that he was not hurt so badly," Walden said.

He said Eremenko would be out for two to three weeks.

Eremenko's father, Alexei Eremenko, said in a statement on the Finnish Football Association's web site that a "couple of guys encountered" his son on the street and "hit him in the face without a reason."

It was unclear if the attack was connected to Saturn's 1-0 loss to Zenit, which gave the St. Petersburg club its first title since 1984. Had Saturn defeated Zenit on Sunday, Spartak Moscow would have narrowly captured the title after defeating Dynamo Moscow 2-1.

Violence is common among Russian football fans, and Spartak fans have been implicated in violent attacks in recent years. In September 2005, Kommersant reported that 25 suspects detained after an attack on activists from the now-banned National Bolshevik Party were members of a Spartak football fan club known as the Gladiators. The official Spartak fan club denied the report.

More recently, police last month detained a group of teenage Spartak fans suspected of killing two dark-skinned people and severely injuring three others in southwest Moscow in a drunken celebration of their team's victory.