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Updated January 22nd, 2024 at 09:49 IST

Madrid gets 3 favorable VAR decisions to salvage a 3-2 win over last-place Almeria in Spanish league

In order to escape an embarrassing loss at home to Almeria, who are now in last place in the Spanish league, Real Madrid needed a lot of help from VAR on Sunday.

Dani Carvajal
Dani Carvajal celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's third goal during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Almeria at the Santiago Bernabeu | Image: AP
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Real Madrid needed help from VAR — a lot of help — to avoid an embarrassing setback at home against last-place Almeria in the Spanish league on Sunday.

Madrid got three favorable video reviews in the second half, then scored a winner nine minutes into stoppage time to rally to a 3-2 win over Almeria, the only team yet to win in the league this season.

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The dramatic late win moved Madrid two points in front of Girona, which hosts relegation-threatened Sevilla later Sunday.

Barcelona can move back into third place when it visits Real Betis later Sunday.

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Dani Carvajal scored Madrid's winner from close range after a cross into the area, erupting the crowd at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium and sending the Almeria players into despair.

The goal came after three separate VAR decisions allowed Madrid to stay in the game after trailing 2-0 in the first half. Madrid was awarded a penalty kick that made it 2-1, saw an Almería goal disallowed that would have made it 3-1, and got the 2-2 equalizer after the goal had been initially disallowed by the referee.

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“We played a good match, but someone decided that we couldn't win here,” Almeria defender Marc Pubill claimed.

Almeria coach Gaizka Garitano was sent off in the final minutes for complaining, and said it wasn't the first time this had happened to him at the Bernabeu.

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“What can I say... I don't have words to summarize what has happened here," he said.

Madrid was coming off a loss to Atletico Madrid in extra time in the round of 16 of the Copa del Rey on Thursday.

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It was the fifth straight game in which Madrid conceded at least a goal. Opponents scored 10 times against Madrid in the team's last four matches in all competitions.

Almeria took a surprising two-goal lead into halftime after Largie Ramazani scored from inside the area in the first minute and Edgar González found the top corner with a long-range strike in the 43rd. Both goals came after mistakes by Madrid defender Nacho Fernández.

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Madrid had no attempts on target in the first half and coach Carlo Ancelotti made three changes at halftime, replacing Nacho with Brahim Díaz, Ferland Mendy with Fran García and Rodrygo with Joselu.

Madrid improved and Bellingham moved Madrid closer by converting a penalty kick in the 57th after VAR and the referee determined there was a handball by an Almeria defender. Bellingham calmly rolled his shot from the spot into the middle of the net for his 14th league goal in his first season with Madrid.

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Almeria thought it had regained a two-goal lead when Sergio Arribas scored in a 61st-minute breakaway, but a video review said there was a foul by Almeria player Dion Lopy on Bellingham in the buildup.

In the 67th, Vinícius Júnior had a goal disallowed by the referee because of a handball, but VAR notified the referee again, and he said the Brazil forward used his shoulder to score.

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Almeria also complained after the referee gave 11 minutes of stoppage time. The game eventually ended with 13 minutes of added time.

The visitors will hope for more detail when the VAR audios are released after the match.

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Almeria, winless in 21 matches, had held second-place Girona to a 0-0 draw at home in its previous match. The Saudi-owned club had also played well in a 3-2 loss to Barcelona and in a 2-1 defeat to Atletico Madrid.

OSASUNA WINS

Osasuna squandered a two-goal first-half lead but earned a 3-2 victory over Getafe with a winner by Jesús Areso in the 80th.

Osasuna moved to 11th, one point behind 10th-place Getafe, which hasn't won in the league since December.

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Published January 22nd, 2024 at 09:49 IST

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