Moving Sala homage as emotional Nantes crumble

Emiliano Sala’s former club Nantes gave a final rousing send off to the Argentine striker, whose body was recovered from a crashed plane this week, with a series of moving gestures in their Ligue 1 game with Nimes on Sunday.

Nantes players, staff members and Nantes’ Bosnian head coach Vahid Halilhodzic (C-R) pay tribute to late Argentinian forward Emiliano Sala prior to the French L1 football match between Nantes and Nimes at the Beaujoire stadium in Nantes, on February 10, 2019. – FC Nantes football club announced on February 8, 2019 that it will freeze the #9 jersey as a tribute to Cardiff City and former Nantes footballer Emiliano Sala who died in a plane crash in the English Channel on January 21, 2019. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP)

Known as the Canaries because of their yellow strip Nantes played in a one-off full black outfit with Sala’s name on the back of each shirt.

Tickets for the game were sold at a symbolic 9 euros in memory of the player’s shirt number, which they have also withdrawn from use.

37,000 fans were on hand to see a giant portrait of Sala displayed in the centre-circle ahead of the game, and a minute’s silence was observed before spilling into rousing applause.

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Nantes sold Sala to Premier League club Cardiff during the transfer window but on his way to a new life the player and his pilot crashed into the channel near the British island of Guernsey on January 21.

Nantes’ players had promised to ‘win for Sala’ and goals from Kalifa Coulibaly and Abdul Majeed Waris gave them a 2-0 half-time lead over Nimes, but emotions had worn the home side’s nerves thin and they collapsed to a 4-2 defeat.

Nimes are now 10th while Nantes are 15th just five points clear of the drop zone.

Elsewhere, Radamel Falcao was on target as the 2017 champions Monaco drew 2-2, throwing away the lead twice at Montpellier, to climb to third from bottom.

Later games pitch rock-bottom Guingamp against second from top Lille, Rennes host Saint Etienne and third placed Lyon travel to Nice in the late game.