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5 Jun, 2020 11:39

'They're animals!' Benfica condemn 'CRIMINALS' after team bus is STONED in attack

'They're animals!' Benfica condemn 'CRIMINALS' after team bus is STONED in attack

Top-of-the-table Portuguese side Benfica have issued a statement after disgruntled fans launched stones at the team bus in an attack that saw stars Julian Weigl and Andrija Zivkovic end up needing treatment in a Lisbon hospital.

The reigning Primeira Liga champions were returning from a disappointing goalless draw at home to lowly Tondela when a group of people throw stones at the players and coaching staff through the glass windows of their team bus.

Former Germany midfielder Julian Weigl and Serbia winger Andrija Zivkovic were immediately taken to Lisbon's Hospital da Luz in the aftermath of the shocking late-night attack, which took place on the A2 motorway on Thursday.

A club statement said the pair had been admitted as a precaution following the "criminal stoning" and called for the "greatest effort to be made in order to identify the offenders responsible."

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In an update accompanying a photo of himself alongside Weigl, Zivkovic reassured concerned fans: "We would like to inform you that we are both well.

"Unfortunately we cannot justify this behavior. Nonetheless we assure you that we will keep fighting for SL Benfica and will continue to give everything. Many thanks for all of your recovery wishes and the great support."

Benfica are top of the league on goal difference but are suffering an unusually poor run of form, drawing for a fourth successive match as part of a run that has seen them win just one of their last nine games.

Accounts on Twitter suggested that the incident was not the first time the team had been attacked, with footage purportedly showing a large group of people breaking between a police escort and surging towards the team bus after a defeat to Victoria in 2017.

Shocked fans labeled the attackers "animals" and called them to be charged and issued with bans from attending matches. "True Benfica fans would never be able to do that," said one. "I hope they take action."

Despite widely condemning the attack, several fans warned that the result would have risked angry scenes inside the club's vast Estadio da Luz home had crowds been allowed to attend the match.

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