(Express Sports) - La Liga table continued to prove to be exciting as Barcelona slipped and Real Madrid built on that chance at the top
“This is right about the time the Ultras start chanting for Sergio Ramos on a goal – and there it is! Right on cue!” These were the words spoken by Match Day Show’s English commentator in the 81st minute during Real Madrid’s fixture against Real Betis at Santiago Bernabeu. It was a similar situation for the Zinedine Zidane side which they have faced quite so often this season. The team trailing- the fans cheering- and all they need is one goal to save the game. And just like before, it was Captain Sergio Ramos to the rescue.
For the seventh time this season, Madrid’s “superhero” headed the ball back into the net from a Toni Kroos’ corner – it was his 10th goal of the season- to save his side from a difficult position. Barcelona lost three point against 17th placed Deportivo Alaves, on the back of a historic comeback against PSG in the Champions League. The shocking 2-1 loss for Luis Enrique’s side, against lowly opponents, had given the perfect opportunity to Los Blancos to regain the top position in the table.
But Real’s goalkeeper Keylor Navas’, who has been leaking goals from past few games, and is clearly low on confidence, ruined the chance for Zidane’s side to ease past Betis. The fumble at the goalpost saw the Chilean scoring an own goal in the 24th minute and giving the away side an early lead. “That is part of the game, there can be mistakes, like with everyone. And in the end he saved us the three points,” Zidane defended Navas’ performance yet again in the post match conference, but it clearly looks Real need to invest in a goalkeeper in the summer window transfer. It took a Cristiano Ronaldo header in the 41st minute to bring the game to equal terms before half time.
In the second half, the home side started strong, with James Rodrigues, Ronaldo, Alvaro Morata and Lucas Vazquez all finding chances to score a goal, though all failing in their attempts. But a corner in the last 10 minutes proved to be a lifeline when Ramos, who has been on a roll this season in terms of goals, found pocket of space in between Betis’ back four and headed it past former Real Betis keeper Antonio Adan, to win and take the team back top with 62 points. “It annoys many people [that we are top]. But that is normal. We are Madrid and can annoy many people,” Zidane said after the game.
The manager needs to figure out if there is a need to further increase Ramos’ wages since he has been serving as an extra attacker for the side. It was the third time this season, when the central defender had saved his side with a late header. He did so against Barcelona in December and then repeated it with an injury time header in the very next game against Deportivo La Coruna. Just three years ago, it was Ramos’ extra time header against Atletico Madrid that saved the European Championship final for Los Blancos. The defender has become an added asset for Madrid in the front, and if Real has to win the League title, Ramos could prove to be a key player.
What goes wrong with referees in Spain?
Just few days after the German referee Deniz Aytekin courted controversy for awarding two penalties to Barcelona in the Champions League, spoiling the celebrations of the massive comeback victory for Luis Enrique’s men, the referees again made huge blunders in Real’s fixture. In 22nd minute, Betis’ midfielder Drako Brasanac found himself going one-on-one against Navas just few yards away from the goal. But the two-time Copa America winning goalkeeper upended the run by a meaty tackle on Brasanac’s legs. For what seemed like a clear red-card, the referee signaled no foul and waved on to continue the game.
If that was not all, Ronaldo’s goal from a tremendous chip in the 73rd minute was disallowed by linesman for offside. The replay clearly showed the Portuguese forward behind the defence line before making the run.
Instances of false calls by referees have become a common sight in Spain, especially in big matches. While some football fans troll Barcelona to be in league with Spanish referees, others say referees in Spain are “blind”. Barcelona after losing their match by 2-1 against Deportivo La Coruna were critcised with many saying that the Catalans cannot win without referees’ support.
Instances like these spoil the sport of football, especially when they occur in big matches. Football organisations such as UEFA, FIFA and others need to address the issue and ensure only worthy and unbiased contenders are employed for officiating in big matches.
Other Resuts: Espanyol 4-3 Las Palmas; Sevilla 1-1 Leganes; Valencia 1-1 Sporting; Malaga 1-2 Alaves; Granada 0-1 Atletico De Madrid; Real Sociedad 0-2 Athletic Bilbao; Celta Vigo 0-1 Villarreal; Osasuna 1-1 Eibar