Liverpool fans soaking up atmosphere in Rome ahead of Champions League match

Liverpool fans have descended on Rome ahead of the club's Champions League semi-final amid safety warnings from authorities.

The football club's first leg 5-2 win over AS Roma was marred by an attack before the game which left supporter Sean Cox in a coma.

The Foreign Office has issued advice to fans heading to the Italian capital, suggesting it is "strongly recommended" they take the free shuttle busses to the game rather than walk to the Stadio Olimpico, while a ban on drinking alcohol in the street is also in force in the city centre and around the stadium.

Officers from Merseyside Police have travelled to Rome to assist with the operation.

Many fans posted pictures on social media of themselves at famous landmarks around the city as they flew in a day early.

Josh Mitchell, 24, from Liverpool, and cousins James Beattie and Adam Beattie, from Huyton, Merseyside, were among those who posed with their banners outside the Colosseum on Tuesday.

James, 22, said: "Against all the reports all the Romans have been dead nice.

"We've been told watch out from half seven, eight onwards but they've been dead sound and welcoming, can't fault them really.

"It's one of the world's biggest tourist cities, I think they are just over egging it personally."

And Adam, 24, added: "Today's been great, tomorrow you've just got to have common sense.

"Probably not going to wear red tomorrow, and get in the stadium quite early."

They said they were going to find a pub on Tuesday night to watch the other semi-final between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich on television.

"Safety in numbers isn't it? We'll probably just find an Irish pub and have a few beers," James said.

Ted Morris, from Liverpool, and his daughters, 19 and 20, flew in for the game and said they were not put off by security fears.

He said: "Been no problems so far and all seems fine up to now.

"No it didn't put us off, we already know what these are like, my eldest daughter's first European away was when she was seven so she's seen it all and she's only 20 now."

Liverpool have asked fans not to hang flags, banners or scarves on monuments and said they should expect to be held back in the stadium after Wednesday's match for longer than usual.

Those without a valid match ticket should not to travel, the club said.

The Foreign Office urged supporters to avoid the Ponte Duca D'Aosta area to the south of the stadium, where Roma fans are said to gather.

Earlier, Rome police public order commissioner Giorgio Luciani said policing the game would be a "tough challenge", with around 1,200 officers on duty.

He said: "We are used to managing these events. For the Rome Marathon we organised a police service of more than 1,000 people. For the derby between Roma and Lazio it was the same.

"We can guarantee the safety of Liverpool supporters if they respect the rules and make the day as normal as they can.

"We don't ask for anything special, just that they respect the rules."

Mr Luciani added the attack on Mr Cox was a "terrible episode".

Mr Cox, a 53-year-old father of three suffered serious head injuries after being assaulted outside Anfield stadium on Tuesday.

Two men in their 20s from Rome have been charged with violent disorder over the incident.

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