LONDON: Sitting apart but united in melody, Arsenal supporters restored a semblance of normality to an English stadium.
Even the customary chanting against its north London rival Stand up if you hate Tottenham was back.
The fans had waited 271 days to return to the Emirates Stadium, and to see Alexandre Lacazette run over to celebrate in front of them. Just as he did against West Ham in March, Lacazette scored first against Rapid Vienna.
The lucky 2,000 at Thursday’s Europa League game were the first spectators allowed into a top-level competitive game in England since March 11 the day the coronavirus was declared a pandemic by the W.H.O. Sports then shut down and stadiums were closed to spectators once competitions eventually resumed.
Britain is an outlier in Europe. It’s had the most coronavirus deaths on the continent, with the total going over 60,000 with another 414 in the day before the Arsenal match. But it is the first of the major nations to allow supporters back into football games during COVID-19’s second wave.
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