Russian Premier League club Rostov suffered an embarrassing 10-1 thrashing by relegation-threatened Sochi after being forced to field youth players on Friday because its entire first team squad was in quarantine.
Six players tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, two days before the season was due to resume following the suspension caused by the pandemic.
Will all of Rostov's players and coaches self-isolating, the fourth-placed team had no professional players available for its first match back. Rostov had tried to get the game postponed but host Sochi pushed for the fixture to go ahead as it seeks vital points to boost its battle against relegation.
None of the Rostov squad had played at the highest level, the oldest in the 18-man squad was just 19, there were two 16-year-olds, 12 were 17 and three 18.
Sochi climbed from 12th to ninth in the 16-team league thanks to the rout.
Rostov's teen brigade grabbed the lead when Roman Romanov scored in the first minute but was 4-1 down by halftime and home side Sochi showed no mercy in the second half.
Rostov's 17-year-old goalkeeper Denis Popov was named man-of-the-match despite letting in 10 goals, making 15 saves in the match including keeping out a penalty. Sochi had a total of 41 shots at goal compared to two for Rostov.
“It is impossible to talk about positives but the only positive is the players made their debuts in the league, and our dream of having an entire team of academy players was realised,” said Rostov's under-20 coach Zaur Tedeyev.
“All the goals we conceded were down to the fact that they overpowered us. We had very young boys out there and in the second half we only had one player on the pitch over 18.”
Rostov president Artashes Arutyunyants said ahead of the match that Sochi had rejected his side's request to have the match postponed. After the match, he hailed the efforts of the young players by calling them “future champions”.
On Thursday, the Russian Football Federation offered to postpone the match until July 19, but this required the agreement of both clubs, and struggling Sochi declined.
Zenit St. Petersburg lead the table with 50 points after 22 matches.
Russia has the third-highest number of infections in the world with more than half a million cases.
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