Colombian side forced to start top-flight league game with SEVEN men

Colombian top-flight team are forced to play with SEVEN MEN (including reserve keeper at centre back) due to Covid and injuries, but hold out at 0-0 until 57 minutes – only to see the game suspended at 3-0 down after another player went off injured

  • Rionegro Aguilas had their match against Boyaca Chico abandoned on Sunday
  • Rionegro Aguilas had to play the match with seven men, against their wishes
  • The Colombian top-flight outfit have been decimated by Covid-19 and injuries
  • They were missing 22 players overall for the clash – including 16 due to Covid-19
  • Reserve keeper Juan Valencia played at centre half and it was 0-0 at half-time

Earlier this season in England Manchester City and Fulham saw their respective Premier League matches postponed due to mass outbreaks of coronavirus within their squads. However, over in Colombia one side wasn’t afforded that luxury at the weekend.

On Sunday, top-flight outfit Rionegro Aguilas were forced to play with just seven players – including one reserve goalkeeper at centre back as well as a first-team debutant too – due to multiple cases of Covid-19 and injuries before it was eventually abandoned with just over 10 minutes remaining.

Rionegro Aguilas had 22 players missing for their encounter at home to Boyaca Chico, but despite having appealed to the league – Categoria Primera A – for the game to be called off they were forced to play.

Colombian outfit Rionegro Aguilas were forced to play with seven men on Sunday despite requesting for the game to be postponed with 22 players missing due to Covid-19 and injury

Out of that total, 16 players had tested positive for Covid while the other seven were out due to injury.

Speaking to Win Sports earlier in the week, league president Fernando Jaramillo said: ‘If there are seven players available, you have to show up with those seven players.’

In a lengthy statement posted on Twitter before kick-off, Aguilas said they were playing only to avoid ‘severe sanctions’.

And as kick-off fast approached their social media account took a swipe at their predicament by writing: ‘The 18… sorry the seven called up for the most unequal game in history.’

Lining up in a 3-2-1 formation, reserve goalkeeper Juan Valencia played in the unfamiliar role as a right-sided centre back. However, before the match could even could it was delayed as the referee instructed him to change out of the goalkeeper top he tried to start in and to put on an outfield one.

And the hosts displeasure was made even more evident as they held out two banners at their Estadio Alberto Grisales ground. The first, held up by four players, read ‘LIFE FIRST’, while the second, held up by the remaining three, read ‘#FAIRPLAY’. Neither was broadcasted by the TV but journalists shared those images on social media.

Their seven men held up banners before kick-off which read ‘LIFE FIRST’ and #FAIRPLAY’

In bizarre and unfamiliar scenes, Rionegro fielded a 4-2-0 formation when out of possession and the pattern of the game was evident after just 13 minutes when Boyaca Chico made two attacking substitutions.

However, somehow the depleted hosts went into half-time miraculously level at 0-0.

Chico are struggling near the foot of the the table and it was evident by the fact they had just four shots on target against the seven men in the opening 45 minutes.

However, Aguilas’ resistance was finally broken in the 57th minute. This sparked two more goals soon after before the match was suspended with 11 minutes to play.

The players split in a four and a three with the banners to visibly demonstrate their displeasure 

The encounter was called to halt when Giovanny Martinez was injured and couldn’t continue in the 79th minute, putting Aguilas below the minimum players required to play.

At the time of the game ending, the hosts had just two shots – compared to their opponents 27 – and had 12 per cent of the possession.

Following the abandonment, Aguilas tweeted: ‘We lose the game but we will win the battle against Covid-19. We are very proud of you, guys.’ 

After the match’s conclusion Rionegro Aguilas applauded their players’ valiant efforts

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