Man City beat Arse­nal as Prem re­turns

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS -

WMANCHESTE­R, ENG­LAND (AP):

HEN MANCH­ESTER City scored the first goals the Premier League had seen in 100 days, only health work­ers were in the stands to ap­plaud.

For the last three months, it’s been the na­tion ap­plaud­ing the health work­ers.

In pro­tec­tive cloth­ing, they were among only 300 peo­ple al­lowed into the Eti­had Sta­dium for the game against Arse­nal which helped end the Premier League’s shut­down on yesterday.

The 55,000 seats that would usu­ally be filled were in­stead empty, mostly cov­ered by ban­ners. The only sup­port­ers seen cel­e­brat­ing goals from Ra­heem Ster­ling, Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Fo­den dur­ing City’s 3-0 win were on big screens in the stands, stream­ing live from their homes.

The screens were also used to mourn some of those who died dur­ing the pan­demic. The face of Glyn Par­doe, a for­mer City player and coach, was shown three weeks af­ter the virus killed him at the age of 73. “To­gether we have been fac­ing a health emer­gency,” the City sta­dium an­nouncer said. “He­roes have risen to chal­lenges we never im­aged.”

‘BLACK LIVES MAT­TER’ SHIRTS

The teams also used the oc­ca­sion to pay trib­ute to Ge­orge Floyd, with the play­ers tak­ing a knee around the cen­tre cir­cle be­fore kick­off in a ges­ture of sol­i­dar­ity against the racial in­jus­tice re­in­forced by his death at the hands of po­lice in Min­nesota.

All play­ers also wore shirts with the text “Black Lives Mat­ter” re­plac­ing the names on their backs.

“I see it as a mas­sive step by the Premier League to al­low some­thing like that to hap­pen,” said Ster­ling, who has been an out­spo­ken cam­paigner against racism. “It shows we’re head­ing in the right di­rec­tion. Lit­tle by lit­tle, we are see­ing change and that’s what ev­ery­one is hop­ing for, not just black play­ers but the ma­jor­ity of the coun­try.”

It was Ster­ling who scored the Premier

League’s first goal since March 9 by cap­i­tal­is­ing on an er­ror by David Luiz in first-half stop­page time. The goal cel­e­bra­tion fea­tured a touch of el­bows with team­mates and a brief em­brace to re­spect so­cial dis­tanc­ing.

Sub­sti­tutes also must re­main two me­tres apart on the side­lines, leav­ing them sit­ting up in the stands closer to the press tri­bune than the bench. The voices of ra­dio com­men­ta­tors and the shouts be­tween the play­ers and coaches only punc­tu­ated the unique lack of at­mos­phere in the world’s big­gest football league.

The med­i­cal staff, wear­ing pro­tec­tive equip­ment, twice had to en­ter the field in the open­ing 20 min­utes when Arse­nal play­ers Granit Xhaka and Pablo Mari went down in­jured and had to come off.

Some in full white suits and face masks spent 10 min­utes on the field in the sec­ond half to treat City de­fender Eric Gar­cia af­ter a col­li­sion with goal­keeper Eder­son - a clat­ter­ing sound that could be heard around the sta­dium.

AP

Manch­ester City’s Phil Fo­den (cen­tre) cel­e­brates with Ra­heem Ster­ling (right) af­ter scor­ing his side’s third goal dur­ing the English Premier League match be­tween Manch­ester City and Arse­nal at the Eti­had Sta­dium in Manch­ester, Eng­land, yesterday. The English Premier League re­sumed af­ter its three-month sus­pen­sion be­cause of the coro­n­avirus out­break.

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