Russian Premier League side FC Rostov resumed their season with a humiliating 10-1 defeat by mid-table strugglers PFC Sochi on Friday night after their entire first team was quarantined due to a COVID-19 outbreak at the club.
Rostov could have gone second with a strong victory over Sochi, who are caught in a relegation dogfight in the lower half of the Russian Premier League table.
But they were forced to field a team packed with academy players after a COVID-19 outbreak among their first team forced their entire squad into quarantine.
The Russian Premier League resumed play on Friday after months of shutdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak. But just two days before their first match since lockdown, six Rostov first-teamers tested positive for coronavirus.
It meant the entire squad and coaching staff was forced into self-isolation, meaning the club had no professional players available for the fixture.
Rostov then turned to their academy team to represent them, but they were hopelessly outmatched by a full-strength Sochi side, who swept them aside in a tidal wave of goals as they claimed a stunning 10-1 win.
Remarkably, Rostov actually took the lead in the match, with academy player Roman Romanov scoring in the opening minute, but things quickly went sour for the young side, and they went in at halftime 4-1 down.
Things went from bad to worse after the break as Sochi hit six more goals past Rostov’s 17-year-old goalkeeper Denis Popov who, despite picking the ball out of his net 10 times, was named man of the match for keeping the score down to only 10.
Popov made 15 saves over the course of the match and even saved a penalty. But ultimately he was unable to prevent his side from crashing to an embarrassing defeat.
The win pushed Sochi up to ninth place in the league and brought their goal difference back into positive figures in the process.
“It is impossible to talk about positives but the only positive is the players made their debuts in the league, and our dream of having an entire team of academy players was realized,” said Rostov’s under-20 coach Zaur Tedeyev, who took charge of the side.
“All the goals we conceded were down to the fact that they overpowered us. We had very young boys out there and in the second half we only had one player on the pitch over 18.”
Rostov president Artashes Arutyunyants revealed before kickoff that his club’s request that the match be postponed had been rejected by Sochi, and after the match he praised his young players, calling them “future champions”.