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Monday, March 4, 2024

Almeria fume at referees in 3-2 loss at Real Madrid: ‘The game was stolen from us’

Almeria players and coaches were left fuming at the officiating in their 3-2 defeat against Real Madrid, with midfielder Gonzalo Melero saying after the game he felt “the game was stolen from us”.

Full-back Marc Pubill told broadcaster DAZN that “somebody decided that we could not win today”.

Almeria were unhappy with the award of a penalty to Madrid in the second half, which allowed the hosts to pull a goal back to 2-1. There were also complaints about a goal for Almeria that was disallowed due to a foul in the build-up, and then about Madrid’s equaliser after an apparent handball by Vinicius Junior.

Several incidents during the were subject to lengthy on-field reviews by referee Franciso Jose Hernandez following recommendations by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).

“We leave with the feeling that the game was stolen from us,” Melero said. “The penalty, the goal with the hand, the gesture, the goal disallowed for a struggle.

“If we want to be the best league in the world, as is being said a lot… we are light years away. And it’s hard for me to say it, and it p***** me off, but it’s just that there’s no way to take it.

“There have been several this year, if you don’t complain, they don’t help you. But today’s situation goes beyond all limits. It’s a real blast. Spanish football is now light years away from the Premier League, that’s the reality.”

Pubill added: “The team played a great game, we went in front, and I believe somebody decided that we could not win today, and the game ended as it did.”

What happened in the game?

Almeria took a shock lead in the first minute at the Santiago Bernabeu, with Largie Ramazani finishing past Kepa Arrizabalaga from close range. La Liga’s bottom club then doubled their league just before half-time through a well-placed volley from Edgar Gonzalez.

Madrid were then awarded a controversial penalty in the second half, with Hernandez taking some time watching replays on the pitchside monitor before pointing to the spot.

Jude Bellingham converted the penalty in the 57th minute to pull one back for Madrid before Almeria thought they had restored their two-goal lead shortly after, only for Sergio Arribas’ effort to be ruled out following a VAR check. The review of the decision led to Dion Lopy being booked for a foul, while Almeria coach Gaizka Garitano was also cautioned for his complaints.

Vinicius then equalised for Madrid in the 67th minute, with his goal initially ruled out due to his handball. The goal was again subject to a pitchside review and subsequently allowed to stand.


Hernandez reviewed multiple decisions using the pitch-side monitor at the Bernabeu (Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images)

Bellingham initially thought he had scored his second of the game 10 minutes later but the Englishman’s effort was quickly disallowed due to Fran Garcia being offside in the build-up.

Eleven minutes of stoppage time were signalled following the VAR reviews during the second half, with Garitano shown another yellow card shortly into the period after complaining about a further minute being added on due to an injury.

Captain Dani Carvajal then scored the winning goal for Madrid in the ninth minute of added time, converting from close range after Bellingham’s header across goal.

What did the coaches say?

“I understand Almeria’s complaints,” Madrid’s Carlo Ancelotti said. “They were decisions reviewed by the VAR and the referee made the decisions that I think were clear”

“Everyone has their own opinion. They (Almeria) played a very good game but we have to look at the three decisions and all three decisions are correct.”

Garitano, who will miss Friday’s game against Alaves after his sending off, said: “You’ve all seen the game, if I give my opinion… they punish us coaches for talking. So my opinion does not matter, you all saw what happened.”

“I don’t usually talk about the referees. It’s not the first time it’s happened to me here. And everyone saw what happened in the game today. What do you want me to say, I’ve not got words to describe what happened here today, what am I going to say?”

Almeria made their feelings more apparent on social media, posting: “Don’t expect us to publish the match piece. Everything is more than clear”

(Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP via Getty Images)



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