Casemiro and VAR, the stars of the evening

Another three points for Real Madrid thanks to two goals by Casemiro (which were worthy of a centre forward) against a firm and solid Sevilla side who left the Bernabéu with one major complaint: the Luuk de Jong goal cancelled out by VAR in the first half.

Banega took the corner. Militao was chasing to mark De Jong when Gudelj crossed his path, leaving the Brazilian defender on the floor while De Jong was left free to nod the ball home. It was clear obstruction and referees have been instructed to call out such infringements, which are becoming increasingly frequent. Before they were difficult for the ref to catch; but that’s all changed now with the all-seeing VAR.

It has been explained that VAR would only intervene for clear and grave errors. But yesterday if De Jong’s goal had been given, it would have seemed completely normal. To make matters worse, retired ref, Eduardo Iturralde González, explained on Spanish radio show, El Carousel, that De Jong’s second goal should also have been annulled because it was preceded by a handball by Munir on his fall around the box.

De Jong in action against Real Madrid

It was, of course, an involuntary handball, but in the last revision of the rules, it was decided that any handball in attack must be called out – be it voluntary or not. “If the second goal had been disallowed, I would have gone out onto the pitch and taken the team off there and then,” said Sevilla’s sporting director Monchi after the game. Fortunately, Soto, the man in the VAR room, abstained.

Beyond those plays, it was a game that started slow, with Madrid notably feeling the absence of Sergio Ramos against a persistent Sevilla, who, albeit, lacked any significant threat. The second half was made livelier by the entrance of Vinicius, who made things difficult for Sevilla’s defence with his bursting runs down the left flank.

Casemiro pushed forward to see if he could nick a goal, and the Brazilian ended up scoring two. Then the struggle continued as Sevilla became increasingly daring and almost found a second equaliser towards the end through debutant En-Nesyri, who overcooked his shot. It was an odd kind of game in which Casemiro and VAR were the stars.