Sevilla benefited from two video assistant referee (VAR) interventions to beat Real Valladolid 1-0 on Sunday and climb above Atletico Madrid into third place in La Liga, thanks to a converted penalty from Ever Banega.
Julen Lopetegui’s side were awarded a penalty early in the game after a VAR review determined forward Nolito had been fouled by Valladolid’s Javi Moyano as he shaped to shoot, even though his team mates had barely appealed for a foul.
Argentine midfielder Banega stepped up to take the penalty and his effort was saved by Jordi Masip but VAR informed the match official that the goalkeeper had strayed from his line and a re-take was ordered, to the dismay of the home supporters.
Banega converted his shot at the second time of asking to put Sevilla ahead in the 13th minute on a bitterly cold and wet evening at the Jose Zorrilla stadium.
Nolito missed a glorious chance to double his side’s lead later in a first half which was high on intensity but short on goalmouth action, firing into Masip’s hands when unmarked in the box.
Sevilla had talisman Lucas Ocampos sent off for a second booking in stoppage time but they still managed to grind out the victory, becoming the first side to hand Valladolid a home defeat this season.
“This was a really difficult game and we had to compete as well as we could. We played well in spells, and in certain moments we did not play well, but at least we didn’t give away clear chances,” said Lopetegui.
“The league is very tight this season and we know we are going to have to give 100% in every game, there’s no other way.”
The win took Sevilla up to third in the standings on 27 points after 14 games, unseating Atletico who drew 1-1 at Granada on Saturday. Valladolid meanwhile are 14th on 17 points.
Lopetegui’s side are one point behind leaders Barcelona and second-placed Real Madrid, who beat Leganes and Real Sociedad respectively the previous day and who have a game in hand each.
“VAR exists to make decisions like this and we players have to just focus on playing,” said match winner Banega, avoiding a discussion about the two decisions that decided the game.
But Valladolid goalkeeper Masip was disappointed that his penalty save counted for nothing.
“I didn’t pay attention to where my feet were, I was focusing on stopping the shot and it seems I moved forward a tiny bit and the rule was applied very harshly. We need to think more about goalkeepers in situations like this,” he said.