Ramos and Carvajal hand Madrid victory over Dortmund

It is high time all futbol competitions used VAR.

Inside the first 24 minutes of Real Madrid’s 3-1 away Champions League victory over Borussia Dortmund, at Signal Iduna Park, the officiating team missed Sergio Ramos handling a ball off a high ricochet from a Keylor Navas save. The ball was nearly over the line and just under the crossbar when the contact was made. The officials also missed a Dani Carvajal block of a cross with his right arm extended in the box.

What might have been a Spanish celebration was clearly anything but for any fair play fan. Dortmund should have had a 2-1 advantage by the 24th minute. Real Madrid should have been able to win (and frankly did eventually earn their win) without the need to resort to such unsportsmanlike behavior.

The record will show that Madrid were the better side and that Gareth Bale scored the opener via a great volley off a Carvajal cross at the 18th minute. Cristiano Ronaldo followed with a 49th minute left footed shot from inside the box and off a Bale assist. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang tallied one back for Dortmund at the 54th, but Ronaldo closed out the scoring at the 79th minute with a powerful shot from inside the box off a Luka Modric through ball down the right side. Madrid 3-1 Dortmund.

The match puts Dortmund in a bind for advancement while it keeps Madrid with a perfect record and Ronaldo with four goals in two group matches. But the rest of the game seemed to exist in a parallel universe to those first 24-minutes. In the official one Madrid takes the win, in the unofficial one the refereeing team—who have often showed homer tendencies, particularly when officiating Dortmund games—did the German team, the competition, and the sport a disservice.

Ironically, Ramos was quick to argue earlier this La Liga season that Real Madrid were rarely awarded domestic penalties and, truth be told, he was right. If half of the fouls Isco, Bale, Ramos, Asensio, and Ronaldo experienced this season in the box were awarded Real would be top the Spanish competition’s table at this stage.

It is equally true that half the fouls Lionel Messi gets called in his favor, and certainly two-thirds of the cards his opponents are awarded for fouls on the diminutive Argentine, are simply not fouls, let alone yellow-card offenses. Similarly, it is incredible how rough Atletico Madrid are allowed to play all comers to their home stadium and how often the officiating is reflected as even-handed when a near-equal number of fouls or cards are awarded to the contestants by game’s end.

Once Spain starts using VAR in all its competitions it will be interesting to see how many of these special circumstances stop being so. One would hope the same fate might befall continental club competitions, not to mention international competitions between national teams, once VAR is used universally.

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