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Belenenses forced to face Benfica with just 9 players after COVID-19 outbreak

Tom Gott
Belenenses' squad was ravaged by COVID-19
Belenenses' squad was ravaged by COVID-19 / Gualter Fatia/GettyImages

Belenenses had just nine players available for Friday's meeting with Benfica after a COVID-19 outbreak ravaged their squad and backroom staff.

Positive test after positive test in the Belenenses camp had many expecting the match to be postponed, but league rules state that teams must play if they have at least seven players available, one of which has to be a goalkeeper.

Not only did Belensenses have one goalkeeper available in their nine-man squad, but they actually had two.

With backup stopper Joao Monteiro lining up as a defender, Belenenses had the unenviable task of taking on one of the best sides in Portugal with just nine players, and it went exactly how you'd expect.

After just 30 seconds, reserve defender Eduardo Kau put the ball into his own net, but impressively, they managed to survive for another 13 minutes before Benfica made it two through Haris Seferovic.

Despite five of their outfield eight operating as out-and-out defenders, Benfica still picked through them with predictable ease and Seferovic thundered home to double his side's lead and almost certainly end any hope of perhaps the biggest shock in modern history.

Benfica then bagged five in the next 20 minutes, with Darwin Nunez hitting a hat-trick, Seferovic bagging a penalty and Julian Weigl netting a screamer to put them seven up at the break.

Belenenses president Rui Pedro Soares was seen crying on the pitch at half time... just hours after publicly insisting that he did not want the game to be postponed.

After a chaotic first half, we would only get two minutes of the second. For some reason, only seven Belenenses players came out after the interval, before one of the survivors picked up a knock and was unable to continue.

With just six available players, the referee had no choice but to suspend the game and bring it to an abrupt end, with Benfica being forced to settle for just the seven goals.