Benfica match abandoned at 7-0 as COVID-hit Belenenses reduced to six men

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Belenenses’ Portuguese top-flight match against Benfica was abandoned early in the second half because the home side had only six players on the pitch – having been forced to start the game with nine men, including a goalkeeper as an outfield player.

A Covid outbreak had left Belenenses with 17 players unavailable and their nine men were already 7-0 down at half-time.

And, after a delayed break, the team third from bottom emerged with just seven players due to injuries before a further injury immediately after the restart left them with only six – resulting in an immediate abandonment.

A dark chapter for Portuguese football – Rui Costa

Benfica president Rui Costa said his side were “forced” to play, adding the two bodies who could have postponed the game, the league and the Directorate-General for Health, did not do so.

“I regret what happened today, a dark chapter for Portuguese football and for the country itself,” he said.

Manchester City’s Portuguese midfielder Bernardo Silva wrote on Twitter earlier in the match: “What is this? Am I the only one who doesn’t understand why the game hasn’t been postponed?”

Sporting Lisbon, third in the table behind Benfica, released a statement saying: “Portuguese football as a whole is seriously harmed today.

“What is happening has serious implications for the credibility of this championship and the institutions that regulate it.”

They added: “What made this situation possible must deserve a deep reflection by all those who defend the sporting truth and must deserve national attention at the highest level.

“It is already receiving international attention and marking yet another dark episode in Portuguese football.”

Today football lost its heart – Belenenses

Belenenses, who had to field goalkeeper Joao Monteiro in defence, got off to the worst possible start, scoring an own goal within the first minute.

Such was their dominance with the two-man advantage, Benfica averaged 85% possession.

The own goal from Brazilian defender Eduardo Kau plus two goals from Haris Seferovic, one from Julian Weigl and a Darwin Nunez hat-trick had ended any semblance of a contest by the break.

During half-time, Belenenses lost Diogo Calila and Antonio Montez to injury, reducing them to seven players.

The match was called off a minute into the second period as Monteiro dropped to the floor, forcing the referee to abandon the game because the minimum number of players – seven – were not on the field.

The Belenenses players released a joint statement before match that 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.”

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