La Liga: Real tops Atleti as VAR takes center stage

Daniel Karell
NBC Sports

Real Madrid scored three times and referee Estrada Fernandez went to the video assistant referee thrice as well in a thrilling, controversial Madrid derby.

Los Blancos emerged after 90 minutes the winners by a 3-1 scoreline over Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano, though Atleti could feel aggrieved after a pair of VAR decisions went against them. With the win, Real Madrid moved above Atleti into second place, sitting just five points behind Barcelona, though the Catalan club has a game in hand.

Scroll to continue with content
Ad

[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule ]

“It was a team victory, there’s no other way to get anything from this stadium against a strong and competitive rival,” Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari said after the match, via Marca. “Playing as a team is the only way to win at the Wanda, we were strong in every aspect of play. It’s the best we’ve played since December.”

Casemiro opened the scoring with a delightful scissor-kick in just the 16th minute off a corner kick that re-directed off both teams before floating perfectly for Casemiro to fire past Atleti goalkeeper Jan Oblak. Less than 10 minutes later, Atletico Madrid struck back as Angel Correa played Antoine Griezmann through on goal, finishing easily past former Atleti and Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. However, the play was reviewed by VAR as Correa had shouldered Vinicius Jr. off the ball in a way that could have been called a foul in other circumstances. VAR confirmed the call on the field and the goal stood.

VAR was used again in the 41st minute as Jose Maria Gimenez took down Vinicius as he darted into the box. Atleti argued the foul was outside of the box but the foul’s continuation took both players into the box, and VAR confirmed it was a penalty kick. Sergio Ramos stepped up to the spot and smashed a shot home to put Real Madrid in the lead.


In the second half, it appeared former Blanco Alvaro Morata had tied the score at 2-2, only for VAR to disallow the goal to Morata being offside. Gareth Bale then hit the dagger in the 74th minute, firing low and to the far corner to put the game to rest at 3-1.

After the match, Atleti manager Diego Simeone surprisingly gave Real Madrid credit for the victory, not blaming VAR or other refereeing decisions.


“Atletico Madrid lost because of a convincing opponent,” Simeone told reporters, via Marca. “I don’t usually speak about VAR and I believe it’s something that will surely get better and make things more efficient for all. I can’t see the replays like those working with VAR do, so I hope they were correct with the decisions. I definitely don’t think we lost because of VAR. The opposition were better than us and more convincing. They had a very good game.”

Elsewhere in La Liga, Getafe beat Celta Vigo 3-1 and Espanyol beat Rayo Vallecano 2-1.

What to Read Next