Real Madrid had good reason to approve of the video assistant referee on Saturday.
A handball that had gone unnoticed on the field was spotted by the VAR near the end of Madrid’s match at Real Betis, sending Sergio Ramos to the spot to convert an 82nd-minute penalty and take a 3-2 victory in Seville.
The review revealed that Betis defender Marc Bartra hit the ball with his arm during a brush with Madrid substitute Borja Mayoral in the area. It seemed that Mayoral’s attempt to kick the ball pushed Bartra’s arm into the ball.
Manuel Pellegrini, Betis’ new coach and former Madrid manager, said he had no problem with the refereeing.
Madrid played with an extra man from the 67th when Betis defender Emerson was red-carded for fouling Luka Jovic with only the goalkeeper to beat. The referee’s decision was also aided by video.
Karim Benzema, the heart of Madrid’s title run last season, set up Federico Valverde for the 14th-minute opener, and pressured Emerson into scoring an own goal while trying to defend a dangerous cross to the French striker to make it 2-2. Benzema also had a strike that hit the crossbar and almost crossed the goal-line.
“The important thing is our mentality. We came out of halftime motivated to take control of the game,” Ramos said. “We should learn from this. We can’t always fight back.”
Aissa Mandi and William Carvalho scored for a Betis that won its first two matches under Pellegrini. Midfielder Sergio Canales provided key passes in both Betis goals.
“We take away the feeling that we are doing things correctly,” Pellegrini said. “We created more chances than they did in the first half. [But] Real Madrid can score at any moment.”
Barcelona, Atlético Madrid and Sevilla all opened their league campaigns yesterday after having their first two rounds postponed for playing in European competition in August.
Lionel Messi lashes out at Barcelona
Lionel Messi criticized the exit of teammate and good friend Luis Suárez on Friday, dealing another blow to the damaged relationship between the Argentine and Barcelona’s leadership.
Messi posted a photo of himself with Suárez on Instagram with a message expressing his sadness for his friend’s departure and his anger at how the club transferred him to Atlético Madrid.
“It is going to be so strange seeing you in another shirt, and even stranger to have to play against you,” Messi wrote. “You deserved a sending-off fit for what you are: one of the most important players in club history, both for what you did for the group and individually — not the one they gave you. But it is true that at this point nothing surprises me.”
Barcelona decided to overhaul its squad after the 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League last month. The 33-year-old Suárez was told by new coach Ronald Koeman he was no longer wanted. The club, hard hit financially by the coronavirus pandemic, also needed to reduce its expenditure on player salaries.
Suárez bid farewell to Barcelona’s fans in an emotional news conference on Thursday. He leaves Camp Nou as the club’s third leading scorer with 198 goals. The Uruguayan helped Barcelona win 13 titles since arriving in 2014 from Liverpool, including four Spanish league trophies and the Champions League in 2015. MDT/AP