Source AP ©

It's raining British soccer fans

As English soccer fans continued pouring into Moscow on Wednesday for the Champions League final, those who had already made it were sightseeing, drinking in bars and - at least so far - behaving themselves.

Officials said more than 15,000 Chelsea and Manchester United fans were to arrive at the Russian capital's three international airports in the last and biggest wave of supporters coming to see the all-English final Wednesday night at Moscow's Luzhniki stadium.

The Russian news agency Interfax said two Manchester United fans were injured in an attack early Wednesday by local assailants. The report was denied by police spokesman Yevgeny Gildeyev, who said the only injury he knew of involved a Manchester fan who cut his foot stepping on a broken bottle Tuesday night.

Blues and Red Devils supporters appeared to be mixing in bars and on Red Square without any trouble.

But that could change as kick-off approaches. The match starts at 10:45 p.m. local time (1845 GMT), when all 42,000-plus fans will have arrived in Moscow. The late start gives them ample opportunity to drink alcohol.

More than 6,000 police formed three giant security cordons around the huge stadium complex that fans have already begun negotiating, Gildeyev said. A further 9,000 extra police have been deployed around Moscow, he said.

Hundreds of specially trained riot police were on standby in trucks near the stadium.

Authorities were doing everything possible to keep rival fans apart in and around the stadium: Buses were bringing Chelsea and Manchester United fans in from different directions. Inside the arena, police cordons and columns of empty seats will separate them.

After the match, fans planning to fly straight back to Britain will have to wait in an enclosed area outside the stadium while buses shuttle them in groups to the airport. Each set of fans has its own waiting area and has been designated an airport from which to fly out.

No alcohol is allowed anywhere near the stadium, and outdoor bars and restaurants are banned from selling beer in glasses.

While the first fans trickled through Luzhniki's newly erected turnstiles, others - oblivious to local customs and the language - were getting lost and ripped off on the way there.

A long queue snaked around the block as Manchester United fans waited to buy metro tickets at the Rizhskaya station early Wednesday. One shaven-headed United fan reached the front of the line and yelled "bilet" - the Russian for "ticket" - to a puzzled attendant.

The Russian language uses the Cyrillic alphabet, which some fans had apparently only recently discovered. Having bought a ticket, a fan waiting on the platform asked, "Why all the letters look so funny?"

"How do they expect us to get around?" said the fan, who identified himself as Dan, a 23-year-old pub chef from Leicester, England.

Others zipped between platforms, periodically squinting at Russian-language signs, and unsure in which direction they needed to go.

Many who preferred to travel by taxi got stung. One taxi driver on Moscow's main Tverskaya Ulitsa told three fans that the short journey to Red Square would cost about US$40 - more than double the usual fare.

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