Real Madrid snatched a 2-1 win over Ajax in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday, as VAR made a controversial first appearance in the competition.
Having had a Nicolas Tagliafico goal disallowed in the first half after a review, Ajax found themselves behind through Karim Benzema’s 60th goal in the tournament.
Hakim Ziyech thought he had secured a deserved draw for the home side at Johan Cruijff ArenA, but Marco Asensio struck late on to put Madrid in control of the tie.
The substitute Marco Asensio scored a late winner to put Madrid in a strong position going into the second leg on 5 March but it was the historic decision by the VAR to disallow Nicolás Tagliafico’s header in the first half that was the talking point at the Johan Cruyff Arena as officials ruled Dusan Tadic was in an offside position and standing in front of Real’s goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, as the ball looped in.
However, Courtois seemed to think the offence had occurred seconds earlier when Tadic had swung his leg in front of him and the Belgian keeper spilt Matthijs de Ligt’s initial header.
“I think it was the right decision; when it happened I thought maybe offside,” Courtois said. “It was a mistake by me but I went to go and catch it and Tadic made an attempt to shoot, yet didn’t touch it, and as he’s offside he’s offside. Because of his intention I made a quick movement and the ball bounced on my arm. It was an unlucky goal for me to concede but when I saw the screen I saw a possible offside.
“I think it was the correct decision and luckily for us there was VAR because otherwise nobody would have seen it.”
The controversial decision meant Real went in at half-time on level terms with all three goals coming in the second half. Karim Benzema was earlier on target for Real but the reigning champions, seeking a fourth straight title, were given a major scare by the only team left in the competition who had to come through qualifying.
As well as the disallowed goal Tadic also hit a post and Ajax were full value for their equaliser scored by Hakim Ziyech.