Fans on Wednesday found a way not to be left out as the Portuguese Primeira Liga resumed in empty stadiums, with leaders Porto losing 2-1 at Famalicao.
Fans could be heard chanting outside the ground during the match, while some supporters watched from the balconies of nearby buildings overlooking the pitch.
Porto fans had gathered to support the side as they left their hotel for the match, as the league returned after a shutdown of nearly three months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The competition officially resumed earlier on Wednesday when relegation-threatened Portimonense SC defeated midtable Gil Vicente 1-0 at home.
Local authorities had expressed concern over the Porto match after one of the club’s fan groups said that about 300 people would make the away trip to support the side.
Although the group said that they would follow the health and safety measures established by authorities, there was virtually no social distancing as the fans sang, waved flags and cheered on the side as their bus passed on its way to the stadium.
The chants from fans outside the stadium were loudly heard during the television broadcast before the match, but eventually subsided.
About 50 fans took advantage of buildings near the small municipal stadium to watch the match, even if from afar.
Media members were allowed to cover the match.
Two big banners placed in the main stands read: “We stay together” and “For all of us, thank you.”
Players wore masks on the benches and there were few interactions before the match, which started following a moment of silence as the players gathered around the center circle.
Club officials stayed a few meters from each other in the VIP seats.
Huge images of crowds were placed in the stands at the stadium in Portimao in the earlier match, along with banners from sponsors.
Lucas Fernandes scored in the second half for Portimonense with a long-range strike into the upper corner, ending the side’s winless streak that dated to November last year and moving them closer to safety.
Porto, who arrived one point in front of Benfica, conceded early in the second half after a blunder by goalkeeper Agustin Marchesin, who gave the ball away while under pressure inside the penalty box. Fabio Martins picked it up and scored into the open net.
Porto equalized through Jesus “Tecatito” Corona from close range in the 74th minute, but Pedro Goncalves put the hosts ahead again less than five minutes later with a low shot from outside the penalty area, igniting a celebration that included hugs among several players.
It was Porto’s first league loss since January and only Famalicao’s third win of the year. Famalicao, who were near the top of the standings at the start of the season, moved to fifth place with the home win.
Defending champions SL Benfica were in position to retake the lead when hosting 14th-placed CD Tondela at the Estadio da Luz yesterday.
The league was originally scheduled to resume at the end of last month, but a week’s delay allowed time to rigorously inspect stadiums and conduct medical tests on all professionals involved in the matches.
Some venues did not immediately pass the inspections by health authorities and had to make changes before being re-evaluated.
The remaining 10 rounds of the league are expected to be played without fans in the stadiums.
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