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UEFA Champions League: Real Madrid Beat Ajax With Help From First VAR

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Real Madrid claimed a fortunate win at Ajax in the Champions League last-16 first leg. Ajax played well and had a Nicolas Tagliafico goal ruled out by the first Champions League video assistant referee consultation.

 

Holders Real took the lead when Karim Benzema blasted into the top corner after fine work by Vinicius Jr.

Hakim Ziyech levelled from 10 yards but Marco Asensio scored the winner from Dani Carvajal’s cross.

The Dutch side had the game’s best chances, with Dusan Tadic hitting the post in the first half and David Neres, who set up Ziyech’s goal, shooting straight at Thibaut Courtois in a one-on-one chance.

Substitute Kasper Dolberg missed a big chance in injury time as he slipped while shooting in the box, with Courtois able to get a hand to it.

 

The VAR was called upon and for the first time in Champions League, it disallowed a goal Ajax scored against Real Madrid, with the defending champions eventually running out 2-1 winners.

Second-half goals from Karim Benzema (60) and Marco Asensio (87) either side of Hakim Ziyech’s effort (75) hand Madrid a big advantage heading to the second leg at the Bernabeu.

However, Ajax thought they scored the all-important opening goal in the first half but Nicolas Tagliafico’s header was ruled out by VAR due to a marginal offside call on Dusan Tadic, who was obstructing Thibaut Courtois.

Ajax were taking part in the Champions League knockout stages for the first time in 13 years and equipped themselves brilliantly for large periods.

Tadic came within inches of giving his side the lead on 26 minutes but his swerving effort from 20 yards came crashing back off the post.

Courtois was called into action minutes later to block away a Ziyech chance after some incisive build-up play from Ajax.

Then came the historic use of VAR.

Ajax’s players wheeled away in celebration as Tagliafico reacted quickest to a fumble by Courtois. With the players all set to restart, the referee held the play to speak with the VAR officials. They instructed him to take a look at the incident on the pitch-side monitor and he eventually ruled out the goal with Tadic marginally offside as he slightly obstructed Courtois.

Real awoke from their slumber on the hour mark as Vinicius Junior chased a ball over the top and stayed cool to find Benzema, who swept home a powerful finish into the top corner.

Ajax responded with 15 minutes remaining with Ziyech finishing off a low cross from the left.

A draw would have kept Ajax’s hopes alive in the second leg, however, substitute Asensio capped an impressive showing from the bench to finish off a flowing move down the right.

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