With some help from the Video Assistant referee, defending champion Real Madrid beat Ajax to make a big step towards the quarter-finals.

Substitute Marco Asensio scored a late winner, putting Madrid in a strong position in the second leg on 5 March. However, it was the historic decision of the VAR to exclude Nicolás Tagliafico's header in the first half of the arena when the referee ruled that Dusan Tadic was in an offside position and faced Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois as the ball came rolling.

Courtois, however, seemed to believe that the crime had occurred a few seconds earlier, when Tadic had swung his leg in front of him and the Belgian keeper had shed the header of Matthijs de Ligt.

"I think it was the right decision. when it happened, I thought maybe offside, "said Courtois. "It was a mistake of mine, but I wanted to go to catch it, and Tadic made a shooting attempt, but did not touch it, and when he stands off, he is offside. Because of his intention, I made a quick move and the ball hit my arm. It was an unlucky goal for me, but when I saw the screen, I saw a possible offside.

"I think it was the right decision and luckily there was VAR because nobody else would have seen it."

The controversial decision meant that Real scored all three goals in the second half. Karim Benzema had previously been targeted for Real, but the reigning champions, who sought a consecutive consecutive fourth consecutive, were feared by the only team left in qualifying.

In addition to the goal, Tadic also scored a post and Ajax was fully worthy of the equalizer scored by Hakim Ziyech. AP

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