TIRANA, Albania – Albania has returned home to a heroes' welcome from a European Championship qualifier in Serbia that was abandoned after an Albanian nationalist banner was flown over the stadium, sparking violence between players and fans.
Up to 3,000 flag-waving supporters gathered outside Tirana's airport early Wednesday.
Prime Minister Edi Rama, who is abroad, praised players on his Twitter page for "the pride and joy they gave us."
The referee halted the scoreless Group I match in the 41st minute when a Serbian player grabbed the banner — that carried a map of Albania enlarged to include chunks of all its neighbors — and Albanian players tried to protect it.
Rama is due to visit Belgrade next week, the first by an Albanian prime minister in 68 years.