The two minutes that distracted a nation

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The Independent Online
Perhaps the shortest "match" in the history of football finished without a goal yesterday - but not without argument. Two Portuguese First Division clubs, Sporting Lisbon and Chaves, played before a handful of fans for just over two minutes yesterday to complete a match suspended 12 days ago.

However, the final whistle did not end the controversy over the league game, which had been left unfinished because of a power cut. The 145 seconds of play brought no goals and the game ended in a 1-1 draw.

"It just shows the state of shame into which our game has sunk," the Sporting coach, Carlos Queiroz, said after the two minutes of action, played out before a near-empty stadium but shown live on national television.

Both sides claimed that they should have been awarded the full points for the suspended match, charging the other with breaking rules. Chaves said the Lisbon club should have turned up to complete the match the day after its suspension. Sporting said Chaves were to blame for the failure of the lighting.

Both teams announced after the game that they would lodge formal protests with the Council of Justice, Portuguese football's highest authority. Sporting had to fit in the 1,000-kilometre round trip to the northern town of Chaves between a Portuguese Cup tie at home to Boavista on Wednesday and a vital championship game with the league leaders Porto, also at home, tomorrow. Sporting are in second place in the league, five points behind Porto.

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