Spanish football finally returned to action on Wednesday night for the first time in three months — but it was hardy they match to trumpet the return of the beautiful game.
The first game on the agenda was a piece of unprecedented history — not only due to the coronavirus pandemic, but also something just as nasty and ugly.
Rayo Vallecano and Albacete played out the second half of their Segunda Liga match that was abandoned in December due to offensive chanting.
The game was completed behind closed doors at Rayo’s Vallecas stadium on the southern outskirts of Madrid and Luis Advincula gave the home team a 1-0 victory after resuming with the score goalless and Albacete down to 10 men.
After 92 days since La Liga suspended fixtures due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, the match offered a first glimpse of games in Spain being played without fans and according to strict medical protocol.
La Liga’s top flight will resume on Thursday with the Seville derby between Sevilla and Real Betis.
Albacete had earlier posted a picture on social media of the team eating at an exclusive hotel in Madrid while “maintaining distance and hygiene measures”.
Their players and staff all got off the team bus wearing masks and gloves. They took temperature checks before being allowed to enter the stadium.
Inside the ground, Rayo had placed a banner across one of their stands that read: “Nunca Os Olvidaremos”, “We will never forget you”, in memory to the victims of the coronavirus crisis.
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A minute of silence was also held before kick-off.
The original game was suspended after Rayo fans, known to be politically left-wing, sang songs calling Albacete’s Roman Zozulya a Nazi. Zozulya briefly joined Rayo on loan in 2017.
Zozulya continued the match but Albacete resumed with 10 men after Eddy Israfilov was sent off back in December at the end of the first half.
Advincula’s thundering finish 16 minutes after the restart was enough for Rayo, who moved to within three points of sixth place.