Buzz kill: Gnats swarm players during Tunisia v England game

VOLGOGRAD, Russia, June 18 (Reuters) - England and Tunisia players swatted away swarms of gnats during their opening World Cup game in Russia's riverside city of Volgograd on Monday.

The area around Volgograd is known for its swamps and wide rivers, the perfect breeding ground for insects during the hot and dry summer in the Russian south.

Russian media said authorities used planes in the months before the game to spray the area around the stadium, which is next to the massive Volga river, with a special substance designed to kill them off, but the effort was only partially successful.

See photos from the match: 

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Bugs descend on England and Tunisia's World Cup match
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Bugs descend on England and Tunisia's World Cup match
England's Trent Alexander-Arnold rubs insect repellent on his face before the FIFA World Cup Group G match at The Volgograd Arena, Volgograd. (Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images)
England's Trent Alexander-Arnold sprats insect repellent before the FIFA World Cup Group G match at The Volgograd Arena, Volgograd. (Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images)
VOLGOGRAD, RUSSIA - JUNE 18: Jesse Lingard of England reacts to a bug during the warm up prior to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group G match between Tunisia and England at Volgograd Arena on June 18, 2018 in Volgograd, Russia. (Photo by David Ramos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
VOLGOGRAD, RUSSIA - JUNE 18: Jesse Lingard of England reacts after an insect lands on him ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group G match between Tunisia and England at Volgograd Arena on June 18, 2018 in Volgograd, Russia. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
VOLGOGRAD, RUSSIA - JUNE 18: Jesse Lingard of England reacts after an insect lands on him ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group G match between Tunisia and England at Volgograd Arena on June 18, 2018 in Volgograd, Russia. (Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images)
England's Trent Alexander-Arnold (left) sprats insect repellent before the FIFA World Cup Group G match at The Volgograd Arena, Volgograd. (Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images)
VOLGOGRAD, RUSSIA - JUNE 18: Jesse Lingard of England reacts after an insect lands on him ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group G match between Tunisia and England at Volgograd Arena on June 18, 2018 in Volgograd, Russia. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
VOLGOGRAD, RUSSIA - JUNE 18: Jesse Lingard of England reacts after an insect lands on him ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group G match between Tunisia and England at Volgograd Arena on June 18, 2018 in Volgograd, Russia. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
England's Ashley Young (second left) sprays insect repellent as Trent Alexander-Arnold (left), Danny Welbeck and Raheem Sterling (right) looks on before the FIFA World Cup Group G match at The Volgograd Arena, Volgograd. (Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images)
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Authorities also tried to regulate the flow of water at a nearby hydro-electric dam which locals believe has a direct effect on the number of insects.

Several players were sprayed by staff just before kick-off, but that did not appear to be enough either.

England's Raheem Sterling looked particularly bothered by the tiny gnats circling his face before the start of the second half.

Tunisia's Ferjani Sassi was also pestered by them before the took a penalty - but he still managed to score as the African side went into halftime level at 1-1 with England. (Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer and Andrew Osborn in Volgograd Additional reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Ed Osmond)

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