VAR produced the right decision in disallowing Ajax goal, says Thibaut Courtois

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Thibaut Courtois felt video technology had come to the right decision after Ajax had a goal chalked off in Real Madrid’s 2-1 Champions League win.

A header from Nicolas Tagliafico was ruled out by VAR, apparently because Dusan Tadic was in an offside position and standing in front of Real goalkeeper Courtois as the ball looped in.

However, Courtois seemed to think the offence had occurred seconds earlier when Tadic had swung his leg in front of him and the Belgian keeper spilt Matthijs de Ligt’s initial header.

“I think it was the right decision, when it happened I thought maybe offside,” Courtois told BT Sport.

“It was a mistake by me but I went to go and catch it and Tadic made an attempt to shoot, yet didn’t touch it, and as he’s offside he’s offside.

“Because of his intention I made a quick movement and the ball bounced on my arm. It was an unlucky goal for me to concede but when I saw the screen I saw a possible offside.

“I think it was the correct decision and luckily for us there was VAR because otherwise nobody would have seen it.”

The controversial decision meant Real went in at half-time on level terms with all three goals coming in the second half.

Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio were on target for Real but the reigning champions, seeking a fourth straight title, were given a major scare by the only team left in the competition who had to come through qualifying.

As well as the disallowed goal, Tadic hit a post and Ajax were full value for their equaliser scored by Hakim Ziyech.

However, substitute Asensio grabbed Real’s winner three minutes from the end.

“I like Ajax very much,” added Courtois. “They pressed us really high, it was hard to find space and keep the ball and they played really well.

“They had chances, I made some good saves and we were lucky to win the game today.

“We kept control, scored a really nice goal, they made a good 1-1 and we got another for 1-2 and we are really happy with the victory.”

Ajax boss Erik Ten Hag was bemused by the VAR decision.

“Why was it disallowed? I heard several reasons, offside, hindering the goalkeeper. But I have not seen it,” he told De Telegraaf.

“We dominated, forced many chances, but scored too little.

“Real never allow many possibilities. This was perhaps our best game of this season. “

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Why Real Madrid are worth watching as we pick most intriguing weekend games

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Real Madrid

The Champions League is finally back on our screens, but that’s not to say it should take a back seat to the weekend’s fare just yet.

England’s FA Cup has thrown up the usual clashes between monsters and minnows – or two titans in the case of Chelsea and Manchester United on Monday – while the likes of Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund return to league action following their European exertions.

Don’t know which games to prioritise in front of the box this weekend? We’ve come to your rescue.

FA CUP

MATCH: Newport County v Man City

WHERE: Rodney Parade

WHEN: Saturday February 16, 9:30pm GST

With Manchester United and Chelsea licking their respective wounds until Monday, this is the most intriguing weekend tie of the fifth round for sheer novelty factor.

Don’t expect a Burton-esque 9-0 thrashing, though. Fourth-division Newport have beaten Leicester and Middlesbrough – after forcing a replay at the Riverside – at Rodney Parade to get this far.

Rodney Parade’s surface is, shall we say, questionable. Pep Guardiola will just be hoping his players get out of Wales without needing a visit to the physio.

LA LIGA

MATCH: Real Madrid v Girona

WHERE: Santiago Bernabeu

WHEN: Sunday February 17, 3:00pm GST

On paper it’s an easy home win, but not everything has gone to script for Real Madrid this season. The signs are that they are back yet it just was little over a month ago that they were dropping points to the likes of struggling Villarreal.

Girona are also scrapping for their lives at the bottom of La Liga and have suffered four league defeats in a row. It’s another chance for Santiago Solari to prove he’s the man for the job with a ruthless victory, and perhaps La Liga’s crown as Barcelona begin to look leggy while just six points ahead.

SERIE A

MATCH: Atalanta v AC Milan

WHERE: Atleti Azzurri d’Italia

WHEN: Saturday February 16, 11:30pm GST

It’s funny what the addition of a world-class striker can do to the mood of a team. Krzysztof Piatek is proving as deadly at the San Siro as he was at Genoa, despite having only started to call Italy his home last June.

Allied with fellow January signing Lucas Paqueta, the young Brazilian midfielder who got off the mark against Cagliari last weekend, fourth-placed AC Milan are making a charge back into the Champions League.

They must be wary of Atalanta, however, who are just one point behind the Rossoneri. They not only drew with runaway leaders Juventus in Serie A earlier this season, but dumped them out of the Coppa Italia in a 3-0 stunner.

LIGUE 1

MATCH: Lille v Montpellier

WHERE: Stade Pierre-Mauroy

WHEN: Sunday February 17, 6:00pm GST

Lille are a fun team to watch – like PSG they are absorbing on the attack, unlike PSG they are susceptible to losing in Ligue 1.

This week they entertain Montpellier, the stingiest team outside the all-conquering Parisians having conceded just 19 goals in the league all season.

In the hosts’ corner you have Portuguese sensation Rafael Leao, the 19-year-old whose power in attack causes all sorts of problems, and reported Arsenal target Nicolas Pepe on the wing.

Montpellier dramatically clinched a drew against a rejuvenated 2-2 Monaco last weekend. Can wily veteran Hilton and Co put a lid on Lille?


BUNDESLIGA

MATCH: Eintracht Frankfurt v Borussia Monchengladbach

WHERE: Commerzbank-Arena

WHEN: Sunday February 17, 6:30pm GST

Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich should wrap up simple victories over strugglers this week, so it’s time to shine a light on a couple of other teams.

Gladbach may not win the league but it’s been some turnaround – they’re only five points away from the 42 they accumulated on the way to ninth last season.

Thorgan Hazard, brother of Eden, is the headline name in the attack and Swiss defender Nico Elvedi is deserving drawing attention from elsewhere, too.

They face a stern test at fifth-placed Frankfurt, spearheaded by Barcelona target Luka Jovic. Dortmund and high-flying RB Leipzig have both recently been held to draws.

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Ander Herrera insists Man United can still progress in Champions League

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Ander Herrera has not given up on Champions League progress and is confident that Manchester United’s loss to Paris St Germain will not “hurt” or throw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side off kilter.

After winning 10 out of his first 11 matches in all competitions, the caretaker manager tasted defeat for the first time in the first leg of United’s eagerly-anticipated Champions League round of 16 tie against the French champions.

Angel Di Maria proved the scourge of his former club as he provided assists for Presnel Kimpembe and Kylian Mbappe in a 2-0 loss to PSG that could have been worse had David De Gea not been alert when his team-mates lost their discipline after going behind.

Paul Pogba’s sending off compounded a bad night for United, but midfielder Herrera was not getting too downhearted after their fine, unbeaten 11-game run came to an end.

“I think this result is not going to hurt us because of the way we lost,” the United midfielder said on a night that saw team-mates Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial sustain first-half injuries.

“If you lose being worse than the opponent, that could hurt us. But I think until the corner I couldn’t say we were better (but) the game was under control.

“They were not creating too many problems, we neither but 0-0 could have been an OK result because everything would be open.

“Now it is more difficult for us, but we have good examples (of getting good away wins).”

United won at Juventus in the group stage under Jose Mourinho this season, before securing impressive victories at Tottenham and Arsenal with Solskjaer.

They are the kind of results that Herrera will cling to heading to the French capital for the return leg on March 6, when the visitors must learn from their set piece sloppiness to stand any chance.

“I think the game was tight until the first goal,” he said as downcast team-mates trudged through the interview area.

“We couldn’t say we were the better team, but they were not better than us either.

“So, it’s difficult because against these kind of teams, such good teams, you don’t want to concede goals from corners.

“They didn’t create in the first 60-65 minutes. I couldn’t say any chance from open play. The two chances they had were offside, so we couldn’t say they created any chance.

“But after the goal they could play counter attack. They have very quick players, they couldn’t build from the back. We were pressing quite good, so after the goal they were finding those gaps that they couldn’t find in the first half.

“But this is football. Something to learn (from). We can’t concede goals from set pieces against these kind of teams because everything turns much, much (more) difficult, much harder.

“So now we have good examples. We won away against Tottenham, we won against Arsenal.

“They are teams that are as good as PSG, so we will go there to try and make it difficult for them.

“Right now, we have to think about the FA Cup against Chelsea and keep our place in the top four.”

As disappointing as Tuesday’s loss might be, there are still positives for United. Sat in the top four for the first time since the opening weekend of the season, Solskjaer’s side now focus on the FA Cup and travel to Chelsea on Monday for an interestingly-poised fifth-round clash.

“I think we are not going to lose time thinking about what happened tonight,” Herrera told MUTV.

“Chelsea is a big game for us away. FA Cup is a competition that we lost the final last year (when) deserving to win, in my opinion.

“So, we have a good opportunity to fight for FA Cup and keep our position in the top four.”

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