"It was pretty horrible stuff", according to an eyewitness account of the violence outside Anfield on Tuesday night, which left an Irishman unconscious in the middle of a Liverpool street.

In the hours before the Champions League semi-final first leg clash between Liverpool and AS Roma, Sunday Times football correspondent, Jonathan Northcroft, was making his way towards the press entrance at Anfield.

Northcroft noticed a group of Italian fans coming down Venmore Street, one of the many suburban streets that lead to the Liverpool stadium, located in the vicinity of the Kop End of Anfield.

"It's one of those - it doesn't quite look right," Northcroft told RTÉ Radio, speaking on the Sean O’Rourke show.

"I was just arriving at the ground at the Kop End, which is where the press entrance is. Anyone that's been to Anfield will know there's quite a well-known pub called 'The Albert' just on the corner there.

"So I was walking just past 'The Albert' into the ground through the gates. And I could see out of the corner of my eye really - there was a group of Italian lads who were just sort of coming down Venmore St, which comes onto Walton Breck Road, which runs behind Anfield.

"I looked back around and these Italian guys ran into the middle of the road. They started shouting and chanting at any Liverpool fans that were nearby. They seemed to want to make a big show of doing something right in front of The Kop."

The area, at the time, was full of Liverpool fans making their way to the ground for the vital European encounter, while others were enjoying a pre-match drink outside the aforementioned bar.

As it would transpire, those in that particular location became embroiled in the attack, standing in direct line of the advancing, angry Roma supporters.

"A couple of guys shouted back and that was enough for an attack. And they had belts in their hands - moved in on the Liverpool fans who'd been outside 'The Albert'.

"It was pretty sudden and it was pretty quick and coordinated and horrible really. And picking on a couple of soft targets...the poor fella that was attacked was just one of a couple of older Liverpool fans outside 'The Albert' - it's quite a sedate pub really."

Northcroft would, of course, regularly encounter the goings-on that take place in and around English club grounds, but the journalist noticed a lack of police in that particular area of Anfield, and was also surprised with the brevity of the situation.

"I immediately knew there was going to be an easy target there. It was over so quickly as well. That's the thing that struck me. It was over so quickly.

"There was a lot of police in the area but they weren't on the scene at all, because by the time anyone reacted - these Roma fans were sort of running off - and the guy was left in the middle of the road."

And it appears that the Irish fan who was assaulted, Sean Cox from Dunboyne in County Meath, was unfortunate to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and suffered the brunt of the orchestrated attack.

"He was part of the group of fans outside ‘The Albert’. So he was just the nearest one to them, unfortunately for him. I guess there were two or three of them - there was a bit of a scuffle. But he was the one that bore the brunt, it looked to me like they wanted to make a quick attack and get out of there. And as I say they picked a soft target"

Northcroft believe that the victim was knocked unconscious as a result of the attack and witnessed the aftermath of the incident as the police finally made their way to the injured man and awaited assistance from the medical services.

"He was in the middle of the street, Walton Breck Road, he was out cold. You could see that and I was about 20 yards away. And I went back into the middle of the road to see what was happening.

"And he was absolutely out. Lots of people around him were very concerned. And then the police did get round, which was a couple of minutes later. You could see the concern that they had as well and [they] sort of cordoned him off and waited for the ambulance to come."

Cox is currently in a critical condition at the Walton Neurological Centre, which is located just under four miles from the stadium.