Benfica return ends in drab stalemate

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POOL/AFP / Tiago PETINGA Is there anybody there? Benfica’s Moroccan midfielder Adel Taarabt protests during the Portuguese league match against CD Tondela in front of a wall of scarves in the absence of spectators

Defending Portuguese champions Benfica stuttered back into action on Thursday after a three-month absence and were held to a 0-0 draw, a result ideally suited to an empty, noiseless Estadio da Luz.

The result took Benfica back to the top of the table on goal difference from Porto who returned from the coronavirus-enforced break with a surprise 2-1 loss at Famalicao 24 hours earlier.

Due to coronavirus protocols, Thursday’s match at Benfica’s 65,000 capacity stadium was played without spectators.

In the absence of fans, scarves were draped across some rows of seats instead.

Benfica have now drawn their last four games with Thursday’s stalemate following 1-1 draws in the Portuguese league against Vitoria Setubal and Moreirense before the lockdown.

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They also shared six goals with Shakhtar Donetsk in the Europa League in February.

Their last victory was a 1-0 win at Gil Vicente on February 24.

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