A man had part of his lip bitten off when trouble flared in Bellshill after an Old Firm football match.
Victim Stephen McDonald underwent plastic surgery which involved skin from his chest being transplanted to replace the lost tissue.
However, Marc McCarron, who was accused of attacking Mr McDonald, walked free from Hamilton Sheriff Court after a week-long trial. A jury found him not guilty of assault to severe injury, permanent disfigurement and permanent impairment.
McCarron (22), of Longmorn Place, Carfin, claimed he acted in self defence.
The alleged attack happened near the taxi rank in Glebe Street, Bellshill, on February 1 last year. It was the day of a televised League Cup semi-final between Celtic and Rangers.
The court heard Mr McDonald was punched, pulled to the ground and kicked before McCarron sank his teeth into his lip.
A jury of ten women and five men heard almost a week of evidence before delivering a majority not guilty verdict.
Imran Bashir, prosecuting, had urged them when considering their verdict to set aside any allegiance they might have.
He said: “Football rivalry can be fun and it can be intense, but unfortunately it can boil over. Perhaps especially in the west of Scotland this can lead to difficulties.
“However, the football match between Rangers and Celtic is only the background here. It doesn’t matter which team anyone supports. The issue is a violent assault and you as a jury must act without bias or sympathy towards anyone.”
The jury was told that McCarron and others were singing pro-Celtic and IRA songs.
Mr McDonald said he took offence when McCarron called him a derogatory name. The court heard McCarron pointed at him, took off his jacket, rushed over to him and punched him.
CCTV pictures showed Mr McDonald on the ground, with his attacker punching and kicking him before ending up on top of him.
Mr McDonald said when he got to his feet shocked witnesses told him his face was in a state.
Asked about the effect the lip injury has had, Mr McDonald said he has a scar and even now, 15 months on, has problems with his mouth.
McCarron, who has no previous convictions, claimed he himself had been chased and brought to the ground.
His girlfriend and sister gave evidence on his behalf, but Mr Bashir branded his version of events “nonsense”.