Vinicius' moment of genius saves Real Madrid against Sevilla

A long ball, glued to the touchline, brought down with glorious chest control, which takes Sevilla defender Lucas Ocampos out of the picture in one move, a rapid advance towards the area, the sale of a dummy to Gonzalo Montiel, another feint and a rocket into the top corner, which Bono got a fingertip to but had little chance of stopping. That was the latest work of art from Vinícius Junior, a thunderbolt on a night when Sevilla and Real Madrid were both suffering the after-effects of midweek Champions League engagements. Carlo Ancelotti elevated Vinícius to untouchable status when he said that the Brazilian will continue to occupy the left wing, come Kylian Mbappé or anyone else, and Vinícius repaid his mentor by resolving a tricky game with a game cooked up out of nothing.

And Vinícius didn’t even have a particularly good game. No Madrid player did, beyond Thibaut Courtois, who slammed the door on Sevilla’s attacking intent on more than one occasion, his final intervention coming after the Brazilian’s 86th minute goal to deny Thomas Delaney and prevent a draw that would have been insurmountable at that stage. With those two and little more, Real Madrid won a match that Sevilla had almost total control over albeit without that superior rhythm and movement that on their better days they have imposed on these kinds of games. The visitors took the lead through a fine Rafa Mir header, who was left unmarked by the Madrid defence, were pegged back by a rare blunder by keeper Bono and finally, when they dropped back excessively, they were denied a deserved point by an undefendable goal from a player who Ancelotti has developed into a genius this season.

VAR fails to justify its existence again

Sevilla were left aggrieved by a penalty appeal that was waved away after David Alaba brought Ocampos down. After Vinícius had scored, Madrid had an even better shout when Diego Carlos sent Vinicius tumbling in the area, but it wasn’t even referred to VAR. After that call, or lack thereof, in the Bernabéu and a similar incident a day earlier during Villarreal’s loss to Barça at Camp Nou, we can only come to the conclusion that in the same way we no longer know what constitutes an offside or a handball, we also no longer know what constitutes a penalty. VAR was introduced so that light could be shed on the mystical properties of the rule book, a tome that everybody knows without having read it and only the match officials - the only people who have actually read it - do not have committed to memory. And the more they read and reinterpret it, the less they seem to know.