Football: Xavi and Ancelotti at odds over disallowed Asensio goal

Barcelona midfielder Franck Kessie celebrating with teammates after scoring his team's second goal against Real Madrid on March 19, 2023. PHOTO: AFP

BARCELONA – Barcelona and Real Madrid coaches Xavi Hernandez and Carlo Ancelotti both disagreed over a late Marco Asensio goal ruled offside by the video assistant referee (VAR) in El Clasico on Sunday.

Barcelona won 2-1 as Franck Kessie struck the winner in stoppage time to send his team 12 points clear at the top of La Liga but, with the score poised at 1-1 with 10 minutes remaining, Asensio netted to put Real ahead.

However, after a VAR check, the goal was ruled out for offside against the Spanish forward.

“We did not win because of an offside that we’re still doubtful about,” Ancelotti said.

“It was not so sure. We have doubts about it and we go back to Madrid with this doubt.”

However, Xavi disagreed with his opposite number.

“It’s clear, offside is clear, it’s a scientific thing, no? I am surprised by what Ancelotti said,” Xavi said. “Without VAR, everything is more difficult. It ends up being fairer, above all on offsides.

“A penalty or a handball, it can be hard to referee it, but this either is, or it isn’t, so that’s why I’m surprised by Ancelotti.”

Barcelona midfielder Sergi Roberto told Movistar: “We came from a Marco Asensio goal that we didn’t know was offside and from losing, we scored Franck’s goal, and the truth is it tastes a bit better, winning like that in the last minute.

“There are a lot of games left and you can never give Real up for dead. Twelve points is a tricky distance to have to go, but it’s up to us, and that is good.”

Xavi said the league was not won yet, but admitted his team were in the driver’s seat.

“We have won only the Super Cup (this season), but I have the feeling that this league, only we can lose it,” he added.

The Spaniard said his team had bounced back strongly after a difficult start to the season.

“You saw at the end of the game, there was a lot of joy, satisfaction. We can’t forget where we came from,” he added, as Barcelona close in on their first league title since 2019.

“In October, after the (Clasico defeat at the) Bernabeu, we were three points behind, we’ve gained 15 points on Madrid. That says something about our campaign.”

Real took the lead through a Ronald Araujo own goal, but Roberto pulled Barcelona level just before half-time.

Both sides had chances to win before Asensio’s disallowed goal. However, Barca sealed maximum points when Alejandro Balde set up Kessie in the 92nd minute.

The build-up to the match was overshadowed by Barcelona’s corruption charge in the “Caso Negreira” refereeing scandal.

Real joined Spanish prosecutors’ complaint against Barcelona last week and their president Florentino Perez snubbed the game for the first time in over 20 years, amid rising tensions between the two Spanish giants.

That fed the match’s intensity, both on and off the pitch.

Xavi asked fans to make the stadium a pressure cooker and they responded, selling it out, whistling Madrid in possession and conjuring one of the best atmospheres of the season.

Asked if Real’s hopes of retaining the title were over, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois told Movistar: “We will keep fighting until the end, but it’s (12 points) now, we have the better head-to-head, but they have to lose four games and we have to win them all.

“Nothing is impossible, but it’s very difficult.” AFP

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