Soccer finally resumed in Italy in a surreal atmosphere as Juventus drew with 10-man AC Milan 0-0 on last Friday to reach the Italian Cup final on the away goals rule.
The first leg finished 1-1 in Milan before the coronavirus forced the season to be suspended on March 9.
Napoli hosts Inter Milan in the other semifinal second leg on Saturday and the final will be played on Wednesday in Rome.
Exactly 100 days after they were meant to play, the teams took to the field in Turin. Just as for every previous home game, the Allianz Stadium announcer introduced the home team with a booming “Ladies and gentlemen … Juventus Football Club.”
Only, this time, there was a resounding silence. The catchy Juventus anthem which is normally sung enthusiastically by 40,000 fans holding their scarves above their heads was played loudly over the announcement, but also greeted by silence.
Appreciation for Healthcare workers and Support for Black lives
Juventus and Milan walked out separately and held a minute’s silence for the more than 34,000 known people who have died from COVID-19 in Italy. That was immediately followed by applause for healthcare workers.
There was also a show of support for the Black Lives Matter movement: Milan’s warmup jerseys bore the words and Juventus wore ones with the words “No racism.”
New rules limit the maximum number of people in stadiums to 300, including the teams, officials and media.
The absence of fans meant the players’ voices could clearly be heard and they echoed inside the stadium, as did the applause from the team benches, most noticeably for the penalty incident in the 15th minute.
Penalty miss and Sent off in fraction of a minute
With no fans present, at times the game sounded like a training session but the hosts were presented with a great chance to take the lead on the night when they were awarded a penalty after a video assistant referee (VAR) review for handball by Andrea Conti.
Cheers from the Juventus bench turned to groans as Ronaldo fired the spot kick onto the base of the left post.
The Milan bench loudly celebrated but, before they could even retake their seats, they saw forward Ante Rebic sent off for a high challenge on Juventus defender Danilo.
Milan had struggled beforehand and, with the dismissal of Rebic, lost its only real goalscorer. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was absent through suspension.
Serie A returns on 20 June with leaders Juventus one point clear of Lazio on the top with 12 match-days still to be played.