Benfica midfielder Julian Weigl has said a “line was crossed” when an attack on the team’s bus on Thursday night resulted in him and Serbian forward Andrija Zivkovic going to hospital. Weigl confirmed on social media that he is now “ok”, alongside a picture of him and Zivkovic giving a thumbs up.
Zivkovic appears to have a patch strapped across his right eye. The two players were hit by shrapnel as the bus was stoned while returning to Benfica’s training ground following their goalless draw at home to Tondela.
Weigl was also on the Borussia Dortmund team bus that was bombed in 2017 as it carried the squad to a Champions League match at home to Monaco. “Hey everyone, I just want to let you know that I’m ok,” wrote Weigl yesterday.
“We were really lucky! We are all doing mistakes but there was a line crossed! Throwing rocks on a bus wihout caring is someone gets hurt? I know that’s not how the real Benfica fans are! Especially these past weeks and days should have shown us that it’s always the better solution to stand together instead of literally throwing rocks at each other! Thank you for your kind messages! I appreciate everyone reaching out”.
A video posted by the Record newspaper in Portugal showed a bus with broken glass on the floor and damage to the outside. The team were travelling along a motorway in Lisbon after Benfica’s 0-0 draw meant they missed the chance to move ahead of Porto on points at the top of the Primeira Liga.
It was Benfica’s first game back since the three-month break due to coronavirus. A club statement read: “Benfica condemns and regrets the criminal stoning that the players’ bus suffered while heading to the Seixal training ground after the game against Tondela on Thursday night at Estadio da Luz.
“We inform that, as a matter of precaution, players Julian Weigl and Zivkovic were immediately taken to Hospital da Luz to be observed, following the shrapnel that hit them. Benfica guarantees its full collaboration with the authorities, on whom it calls for the greatest effort to be made in order to identify the offenders responsible for these criminal acts.”
Porto’s 2-1 defeat at Famalicao on Wednesday gave Benfica the opportunity to go two points clear at the summit but, despite dominating the match at an empty Estadio da Luz and having 24 shots at goal, they failed to find a way through and were held to a 0-0 draw at home to lowly Tondela
The draw took Benfica back to the top on goal difference although they are locked on 60 points with Porto after 25 games. Tondela are 13th with 26 points, seven above the drop zone. Benfica defender Ruben Dias headed against the woodwork from a corner in the second half while substitute Dyego Sousa also headed against the frame of the goal and then had a shot cleared off the line in added time.
“We were almost always in the opponents’ half, we created a lot more opportunities, we were the best team on the pitch, we played pretty well but that is not enough,” said Benfica coach Bruno Lage. “It is a shame we did not take this opportunity to make a good start and go clear at the top of the championship.”
With no fans allowed at the match to prevent the further spread of the novel coronavirus, Benfica scarves were hung on the empty seats in an attempt to bring some colour to the bare 60,000 capacity stadium. “The presence and warmth of the supporters was missing. It was yet another element that was missing today,” added Lage.
Benfica’s neighbours Sporting played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at Vitoria Guimaraes, twice taking the lead through Slovenian striker Andraz Sporar but Joao Carlos Teixeira and then Marcus Edwards levelled for the home side.
Sporting also failed to take advantage of Joseph Amoah being sent off for the home side in the 77th minute and the draw leaves them fourth on 43 points, while Vitoria are sixth on 38.
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