Portuguese champion Benfica stutters in league return

Defending Primeira League champion Benfica's return to the pitch ended in a drab goalless draw against Tondela.

Benfica's Jardel (right) fights for the ball with Tondela's Filipe Ferreira on Thursday.   -  ap

Defending Portuguese champions Benfica stuttered back into action on Thursday after a three-month absence and were held to a 0-0 draw against Tondela, 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 which 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 has now drawn its last four games with Thursday's stalemate following 1-1 draws in the Portuguese league against Vitoria Setubal and Moreirense before the lockdown.

It also shared six goals with Shakhtar Donetsk in the Europa League in February. The holder's last victory was a 1-0 win at Gil Vicente on February 24.

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