Don't worry, We're not starting the soccer news with a hot take on yesterday's late penalty for Real Madrid in the Champions League quarterfinals. Quick recap, after giving up three goals at home to Juventus, their series was tied until a stoppage time incident. On what we're all going to agree was a 50/50 call for the sake of argument, referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot. He then pointed a red card at Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon for bumping him. There's enough reasons to question both of those decisions.
What's without question is that awarding a penalty in stoppage time and sending off the goalkeeper decided the series. It also spoiled things for anybody rooting for yet another quarterfinal comeback story or anybody tired of Real Madrid's dominance in the Champions League. Imagine, the Champions League semifinals without a team from La Liga. It almost happened.
"I’m not here to judge what the referee saw, because it was a borderline incident," Buffon said. "All I’ll say is that you can’t be that cynical in the 93rd minute, to shatter the dreams of a team that had given everything it had to give. We had heart and enthusiasm, we played well and we showed our character. I’ve always found it an honour to go up against this team and this club in front of this crowd, but tonight we deserved extra time at the very least."
"Borderline incidents" and "in the moment decisions" pretty much describe the referee's job. Oliver had several choices, but it was all happening in that moment. It doesn't require officiating expert or hot take pundits to figure out what happened. The person tasked with making decisions made a couple of them, and he could justify both as within the rules. The visual might have looked off. Juventus as the super club underdog while the defending champions celebrate like they hadn't shipped those three goals. Still, within the rules and decisions the referee was in a position to make. That's the game, even when it disrupts the narrative.
“It was a penalty, they've told me it was a penalty. I didn’t see it," Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. "The ref awarded it and we can’t change that, but I think it was a penalty. Cristiano is used to these situations. He doesn’t feel pressure. He scored the penalty and we got the win. There is nothing left to say."
Also in the soccer news, there was an MLS game on Wednesday with NYCFC shutting out Real Salt Lake 4-0 at Yankee Stadium. Ismael Tajouri opened the scoring in the 12th minute with Maxi Moralez doubling the lead from the penalty spot in the 30th. Jo Inge Berget scored in the 41st with Ebenezer Ofori finishing off the goals in the 70th minute. Sean Johnson kept the clean sheet with four saves.
"I think most importantly for us, every game is a different challenge," Johnson said. "We have a group of players that are very driven, very focused, very hungry. I think hungry is the best word to describe this group. Every game, we know we have to go in and put on a performance."
Ventura Alvarado's Necaxa won the 2018 Clausura Copa MX, shutting out Toluca 1-0 at home. An 87th minute own-goal decided the game when Toluca defender Santiago Garcia mis-hit a clearance. Both teams finished with red cards with one to Necaxa and two to Toluca in stoppage time. Alvarado saw yellow in the 50th minute.
The Guardian's Paul Wilson explains the intense pressure for Premier League managers. ESPN's Mark Ogen wonders if Manchester City will be able to shake off that Champions League exit and derby loss to Manchester United this season or next. The Independent's Miguel Delaney makes the case for this season's Champions League.
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