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Police were battling to maintain order in the middle of Scotland’s largest city on Friday night as hundreds of triumphant unionists goaded independence supporters as they marched through Glasgow’s busiest thoroughfares.

Men and women draped in union flags trooped through city centre streets chanting “Rule Britannia”, “You Let Your Country Down” and “Can You Hear the Yes Campaign?”. Some lit flares.

Police closed roads and deployed officers on horseback as they sought to contain the crowds. Scores of officers were seen running down side streets after suspected troublemakers.

The tension began in the late afternoon when police formed a cordon in George Square in an effort to keep apart rival Yes and No supporters. Scuffles broke out away from the main stand-off.

As darkness fell, the square – which had been the main location for independence rallies in recent days – was increasingly dominated by unionists as Yes campaigners left the scene.

Some Yes supporters removed badges to avoid trouble, although others remained and shouted at the union flag-waving crowd.

Looking on at the scene in George Square, David Grant, a 26 year old who works in retail and voted Yes, said: “This is the most number of union jacks I’ve seen all campaign.

But he added: “This has got more to do with the Old Firm [Rangers and Celtic football clubs] and tribalism than the referendum.”

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