Manchester City returned to the pitch on Wednesday briskly and well organized after three-month break by beating Arsenal that looked more jittery at Etihand Stadium.
When Manchester City scored the first goals the Premier League had seen in 100 days, only medics were in the stands to applaud.
For the last three months, it has been the nation applauding the health care workers.
The on-duty medical staff, wearing protective clothing, were among the only 300 people allowed into Etihad Stadium for the game against Arsenal that helped end the Premier League’s shutdown on Wednesday.
Ashton Villa and Sheffield United played to a scoreless draw in the other match.
The 55,000 seats that would usually be filled were empty and mostly covered by banners. The only supporters seen celebrating goals from Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden during City’s 3-0 victory appeared on big screens in the stands, streaming live from their homes.
The screens were also used to mourn some of those who died during the pandemic. An image of Glyn Pardoe, a former City player and coach, was shown three weeks after the virus killed him at the age of 73.
Premier League players used the occasion to continue to speak out about racism.
Instead of names on the back of all player jerseys, there was the message: “Black Lives Matter.”
Before kickoff, there was a show of solidarity against the racial injustice in society that was reinforced by the death of George Floyd, who was killed while being detained by police in Minnesota.
Standing around the center circle, players took a knee — a powerful gesture unlike anything seen in the league before.
It was Sterling who scored the Premier League’s first goal since March 9 by capitalizing on an error by David Luiz in first-half stoppage time. The goal celebration featured a touch of elbows with teammates and a brief embrace to respect social distancing.