Nantes pay tribute to missing Sala

Nantes players wore shirts bearing the name of former team-mate Emiliano Sala during their first match since the Argentine striker went missing.

Sala and pilot David Ibbotson were on board a light aircraft that disappeared over the Channel Islands on 21 January.

Emotional tributes were paid to Sala, 28, before Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with Saint-Etienne in Ligue 1.

A video featuring his highlights as a Nantes player was played before the game at the Stade de la Beaujoire.

Fans were visibly upset, and Argentina flags and ‘Sala’ scarves were waved in the stands.

Players from both sides wore shirts bearing a photo of Sala and the message ‘On t’aime Emi’ – which translates as ‘we love you Emi’ – during the warm-up and wore green armbands symbolising hope during the match.

Play was stopped in the ninth minute as players and fans took part in a minute’s applause, which reduced Nantes manager Vahid Halilhodzic to tears.

Sala had completed a transfer from Nantes to Cardiff City on 19 January, two days before his flight went missing from radar when he was travelling to join his new team-mates.

On Tuesday, tributes were paid at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, where Cardiff were playing in the game in which Sala should have made his Bluebirds debut.

Twenty-four hours later both Nantes and Saint-Etienne were reduced to 10 men in first-half stoppage time, with Fabio and Yann M’Vila sent off for arguing with each other.

The visitors’ Remy Cabella opened the scoring after the break, tapping the ball in from millimetres out after Nantes had attempted to clear.

But Majeed Waris salvaged a point for Nantes with 20 minutes to play, celebrating by tapping a photograph of Sala on a top under his shirt.

Nantes tweet displaying Sala shirts in the dressing room
A Cardiff banner reading: "We never saw you play and never saw you score but Emiliano our beautiful bluebird we will love you forever more."
Nantes captain Valentin Rongier warms up wearing a t-shirt bearing a photo of Sala
A giant tifo of Emiliano Sala
A banner of Emiliano Sala laid on the pitch before kick off
A banner saying "con tigo", which translates as "with you"
Nantes players in a huddle
Players stop for a minute's applause
Nantes players line up wearing Sala shirts
Source: BBC

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