MADRID: After seeing their chance to reach the top of La Liga slip away, defending champions Real Madrid turned their anger toward the officials.

Real blasted the referee and VAR after Sunday’s 2-2 draw against Sevilla, which kept the club from taking the lead with three rounds to go. The result benefitted first-placed Atletico Madrid, who drew 0-0 with Barcelona at the Camp Nou Stadium on Saturday.

Chasing their first league title since 2014, Atletico stayed two points in front of both second-placed Real and Barca.

The complaints by Real came after video review turned a penalty kick for the hosts into one for Sevilla with the game at 1-1 in the second half.

The referee had called a penalty for a foul on Karim Benzema in the 74th minute, but VAR went back to find a controversial handball by Madrid defender Eder Militao a few seconds earlier in the other area. Real also had a first-half goal by Benzema overturned for offside by VAR.

Real coach Zinedine Zidane couldn’t hold back against the officials.

“I never speak about the referees, but today I’m angry,” said Zidane, who entered the field to question the referee after the match. “I didn’t understand anything. I’m not convinced by anything that he told me.”

Real twice trailed against Sevilla, needing a late goal by Eden Hazard deep in stoppage time to earn the final equaliser at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium.

Fernando had put the visitors ahead in the 22nd before Marco Asensio evened the match in the 67th. Ivan Rakitic converted the controversial penalty kick in the 78th to put Sevilla in front, and Hazard deflected a shot by Toni Kroos in the fourth minute of injury time to salvage a point for Real.

“We let two points slip away,” Real midfielder Luka Modric said. “But we are still alive. We’ll try to win the last three matches and see what happens. We’ve seen that every team can lose points.”

Sevilla were six points off the lead and kept a very slim chance of winning its first league title since 1946.

Rakitic said it was a clear penalty after Militao’s handball.

“The ball hit his hand and changed direction, to me that’s a penalty, he said.

Valencia beat Valladolid 3-0 with two goals by Maxi Gomez and one from Thierry Correia, moving the team further away from the relegation zone. The home victory came a day after thousands of fans protested outside the teams stadium against the club’s Singaporean owner Peter Lim.

Celta Vigo won 4-2 at Villarreal in a match with three penalty kicks, two of them for the visitors in the first half. Sixth-placed Villarreal had two players on the bench shown the red card for complaining. Eighth-placed Celta were reduced to 10 men late in the match.

Earlier, last-placed Eibar kept alive their hopes of escaping relegation with a 1-0 win at Getafe, with Recio converting an 89th-minute penalty kick. Eibar moved within two points from safety after all three teams ahead in the standings lost this weekend.

Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2021

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