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Benfica see Portuguese league game abandoned in second half as Covid chaos decimates opponents

Belenenses could name only nine players in their starting line-up, including two goalkeepers.

The game had descended to farce long before kick-off.
The game had descended to farce long before kick-off.
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

BENFICA’S CLASH WITH Belenenses was abandoned in extraordinary circumstances after the Covid-hit Primeira Liga strugglers were forced to name a team of just nine players — including two goalkeepers — due to a Covid outbreak at the club.

The visitors cashed in to rack up seven goals by half-time before Belenenses returned with just seven players, the minimum required for the game to continue.

However, the match was then called off a minute into the second half as goalkeeper Joao Monteiro dropped to the floor, forcing the referee to blow it up.

Following a positive test in the Belenenses squad earlier in the week, a total of 17 cases were reported to have been recorded among players and staff.

Despite the squad being decimated, the match went ahead with just nine players selected and goalkeeper Monteiro playing in midfield.

The Belenenses players released a joint statement ahead of the match protesting its staging, which read: “Football only has heart if it is competitive. Football only has heart if it is really sporting.

“Football only has heart when it is an example of public health. Today, football lost its heart.”

Manchester City and Portugal midfielder Bernardo Silva watched on and tweeted in disbelief: “What is this? Am I the only one who doesn’t understand why the game hasn’t been postponed?”


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However, before the game, Belenenses president Rui Pedro Soares had insisted that his club had not requested a rescheduling, claiming they were capable of fielding a team.

“We have 38 players registered and we trust them all,” he said. “Therefore the decision is up to health authorities.

“We will wait and we are going to respect their decision.”

Darwin Nunez hit a hat-trick as Benfica put their depleted hosts to the sword, but the headlines were made by Belenenses, who eventually managed to force the spectacle to be abandoned.

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