Real Madrid goalkeeper Courtois stops to chat to Sevilla fans mid-game

Footballers can prove to be just as clueless about VAR incidents as the fans in the stadium, as Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and Sevilla supporters proved on Sunday night.

Los Blancos were 2-1 down when in the 74th minute, Vinicius Junior scored what he thought was the equaliser at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan in Seville. The Brazilian appeared to control the ball with his chest before firing past Yassine Bounou, but VAR reviewed the incident for a possible handball against the winger.

While the VAR officials checked the footage in the studio and looked at several still images and replays, Courtois was left completely in the dark by what had happened at the other end of the pitch. Thankfully, the Belgian had some company in that regard.

As spotted by Spanish football expert Sid Lowe, the 29-year-old sat down on the advertising hoarding to discuss the matter with the Sevilla fans behind him. Courtois is hardly the most popular goalkeeper around, as demonstrated by the hostile reception he received from Chelsea fans six days ago. But the conversation appeared to be polite in context as he chatted to a group of Sevilla fans.

After a long check, the goal was controversially chalked off by referee and it was back to business for Courtois and Real, who were left without a mountain to climb after falling behind early on. Ivan Rakitic beat Courtois with a clever free-kick that pierced the Madrid wall to hand Julen Lopetegui’s side the lead on 21 minutes.

Former Tottenham midfielder Erik Lamela then took advantage of some catastrophic Real Madrid defending to make it 2-0 just three minutes later. But Real, who masterminded a comeback against Chelsea that sealed their place in the Champions League last four on Tuesday, were full of life in the second half.

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Rodrygo pulled one back just five minutes after the break before Vinicius’ goal was ruled out. That did not deter the La Liga leaders as centre-back Eder Militao made it 2-2 on 82 minutes. And the winner came deep into stoppage time, when Karim Benzema struck home from Rodrygo’s pass to send the visitors wild.

Carlo Ancelotti was incredulous with the referee’s decision to disallow Vinicius’ goal after the game: “Vinicius’ goal was never a handball. It’s difficult for me to understand the handballs,” he said. “It seems the referee had a plan for the game. Vinicius told me that he didn’t touch the ball. I can’t believe the ref disallowed that, if he had given the red card to Camavinga as well – his plan would have worked perfectly.”

Real look certain to reclaim the title from capital rivals Atletico Madrid after going 15 points clear at the top of La Liga with only seven games remaining. But the battle for second is alive and well after their defeat means Sevilla are level with Barcelona and Atletico on 60 points ahead of the final weeks of the season.

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