Cardiff City offers touching tributes to missing Emiliano Sala in first home match since disappearance (photos)

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A copy of the program for the Cardiff City-Bournemouth match, featuring the missing <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/soccer/players/391634/" data-ylk="slk:Emiliano Sala">Emiliano Sala</a>, sits in the stands ahead of kickoff on Saturday in Wales. (Getty)
A copy of the program for the Cardiff City-Bournemouth match, featuring the missing Emiliano Sala, sits in the stands ahead of kickoff on Saturday in Wales. (Getty)

Before the first home match since record signing Emiliano Sala went missing 12 days ago, Cardiff City fans and the club itself honored his memory.

There was a moment of silence across Cardiff City Stadium ahead of kickoff against Bournemouth, with both teams gathered at midfield and linked in arms (via NBC Sports):

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Cardiff didn’t wait long to give the fans something to feel great about, as Bobby Reid converted a penalty five minutes into the match after a handball by Bournemouth’s Steve Cook in the box:

Reid scored again shortly after halftime and Cardiff City won 2-0.

Outside of the stadium, fans left flowers, signed jerseys and other mementos honoring Sala, who signed for a club-record fee of nearly $20 million on Jan. 19 from FC Nantes in France.

Two days later, a small aircraft carrying only the 28-year-old Argentine and pilot David Ibbotson went missing somewhere over the English Channel, with last contact having been made at an altitude of 2,300 feet near the Channel Islands. Three days after the disappearance, Guernsey police called off the search, saying the chances of survival were “extremely remote.”

Public pleas from Sala’s family, however, as well as a crowdfunding campaign that received contributions from several notable soccer stars including Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe, led to the search being restarted on Jan. 27. On Wednesday, seat cushions believed to have been from the plane were recovered by French authorities, and the search continues.

Fans left their tributes outside Gate 3 to the northwest of Cardiff City Stadium, surrounding the statue of 1927 FA Cup winnerand club legend Fred Keenor.

No matter what’s ultimately found, Cardiff City showed just how much Sala means to them. (All images via Getty.)

Cardiff City’s first match of any kind since Sala’s disappearance was Tuesday at Arsenal, where the first tributes were held.

FC Nantes offered their own tributes through shirts and a giant fan tifo on Thursday after a Ligue 1 match against Saint-Etienne.

Joey Gulino is the editor of Yahoo Soccer and moonlights as a writer. Follow him on Twitter at @JGulinoYahoo.

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