Three English football fans were hospitalised and 10 more received minor injuries in a clash with Ukrainian youngsters in central Kiev before the crucial Ukraine-England 2014 World Cup qualifying match, police said Monday.

A group of about forty English fans, who came to support their team in Tuesday's match, were relaxing late Sunday in a cafe on the main Khreschatyk street of Kiev when an argument with a group of Ukrainians turned into a fight.

Six unidentified youngsters with their faces covered up -- who were joined during the short fight by some 15 other people -- managed to escape before police arrived on the spot, police said.

Three British fans were hospitalised with head and hand injuries as a result of the scuffle, Ukrainian police said in a statement. They were discharged after receiving medical care.

According to eyewitnesses, cited by the Komsomolskaya Pravda in Ukraine daily, the English fans were struck with glass bottles and the attackers also had knives.

Police have launched a criminal probe into the incident.