CARDIFF, United Kingdom, Feb 2 – Cardiff manager Neil Warnock said Emiliano Sala would have been “really proud” of the team after they beat Bournemouth 2-0 on Saturday in their first home match since the plane carrying their new Argentine signing disappeared.
Programme notes, penned by owner Vincent Tan and the rest of the Bluebirds’ board, said events had shaken “Cardiff City to its very core” and that they were now playing for Sala and pilot David Ibbotson.
There were a series of heartfelt tributes before kick-off, with Sala’s photograph appearing on the front cover of the matchday programme and the two captains, Sol Bamba and Andrew Surman, laying floral tributes on the halfway line before what the club called a “silent reflection”.
Sala’s name, in the colours of his native Argentina, was also spelled out behind one of the goals as supporters held cards aloft.
Bobby Reid scored a fifth-minute penalty and the Cardiff players celebrated by running towards the dug-out to hold up a blue shirt bearing Sala’s photograph.
Reid scored again just after half-time, racing onto a pass from Aron Gunnarsson to roll the ball home.
“The crowd were amazing and it’s been a very emotional 10 days,” Cardiff boss Warnock told BT Sport.
“It can’t be helped and I thought we played well against a decent team like Bournemouth. We worked on a system and it worked a treat today.
“Emiliano Sala would’ve been really proud of us tonight.”
“Emiliano was a super guy,” he told the BBC. “I met him for a couple of months and it just got hold of me walking across to the fans — it is an emotional time. It was great for the club to get the win today.”
Sala was travelling from France to join up with his new club in a light aircraft on January 21 when it went missing close to the Channel Islands.
Suspected debris from the plane washed up on the Normandy coastline on Wednesday.
A privately funded search for the missing plane would begin on Sunday, conditions permitting, the scientist leading the mission said on Saturday.