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Belenenses-Benfica abandoned as Covid outbreak causes chaos

Benfica v Arsenal – UEFA Europa League – Round of 32 – First Leg – Stadio Olimpico
(Image credit: Marco Iacobucci)

Benfica’s clash with Belenenses was abandoned amid extraordinary scenes after the Covid-hit Primeira Liga strugglers were forced to name a team of just nine players – including two goalkeepers.

The visitors cashed in to rack up seven goals by half-time, before Belenenses returned with just seven players.

The match was then called off a minute into the second half as goalkeeper Joao Monteiro dropped to the floor, forcing the referee to abandon the game due to the minimum number of players not being on the field.

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Following a positive test in the 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, which read: “Football only has heart if it is competitive. Football only has heart if it is really sporting.

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“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?”

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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