Solari believes in VAR as Real claim slim win at Ajax

AMSTERDAM • Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari has urged managers to trust in the video assistant referee after his team benefited from a controversial VAR decision at Ajax Amsterdam on Wednesday.

The VAR was used by referee Damir Skomina in the 38th minute to rule out a goal for the first time in the Champions League in the first leg of the last-16 tie which Real won 2-1.

Ajax's Dusan Tadic was shown to be offside on replays and deemed to be interfering with goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who spilled a header and allowed Nicolas Tagliafico to head in the rebound.

Said Solari: "We don't have the elements to make a judgment. We don't have a monitor. We (have to) trust what VAR or the referees say.

"We had to do a lot right to get the win - work hard, persevere, create chances, deal with the pressure and score goals."

Karim Benzema scored for Real on the hour before Hakim Ziyech levelled in the 75th minute. Marco Asensio then came off the bench to net the winner.

European football's governing body Uefa later explained that the goal was correctly overturned.

"The referee identified that Tagliafico's teammate Tadic was in an offside position and interfering with the goalkeeper - preventing him from playing or being able to play the ball - as the header was being made," it said on Twitter. "The goal was correctly overturned and a free kick given for offside."

The VAR system, used during last year's World Cup, and now called upon in most of Europe's leading leagues, is making its debut in the continent's top club competition in this season's knockout stages.

Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong suggested that the decision was not justified, saying: "As a team we did well, it was too bad that our goal is rejected. Perhaps something like that is easy to do in favour of the big club."

Meanwhile, Real captain Sergio Ramos has backtracked on his suggestion that he deliberately earned a yellow card to ensure he would be banned for the second leg and, as a result, be available for a possible quarter-final.

"The truth is that given the result I'd be lying if I said it wasn't something I had in mind," the Spaniard said after the game. "Sometimes there is a time to make decisions and I have done so."

Around an hour later, he wrote on Twitter: "I want to make clear that it hurts me more than anyone. I have not forced the card."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2019, with the headline 'Solari believes in VAR as Real claim slim win at Ajax'. Print Edition | Subscribe