THIBAUT COURTOIS’ blushes were spared as VAR controversially ruled out Nicolas Tagliafico’s header for offside to allow Real Madrid to snatch an undeserved victory.
Madrid, bidding to win the competition for the fourth successive time, grabbed the win through Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio either side of Hakim Ziyech’s strike.
Ajax raced out of the blocks at the Johan Cruyff ArenA and struck the post early on through Dusan Tadic before Courtois did well to deny Noussair Mazraoui.
Yet the Dutch side seemingly wasn’t to be denied and they thought they had grabbed the opener when Tagliafico capitalised upon a mistake from Courtois to head home.
However, VAR intervened for the first time in Champions League history when referee Damir Skomina used the technology to rule that Dusan Tadic was offside.
The Slovenian official deliberated for a while over the footage but controversially deemed the former Southampton star to be interfering with Courtois.
The heart-breaking decision took the sting out of the atmosphere in the second half and the La Liga giants start dominating possession with Ajax looking to counter.
Against the run of play, it was the visitors who took the lead after Vinicius Junior drove across the box to tee up Benzema to crash a stunning strike into the top corner.
Ajax hit back 15 minutes later after some great high pressing allowed David Neres to lay the ball off to Ziyech to slide past Courtois.
With the home side pushing for the winner their performance deserved, serial winners Madrid delivered the sucker-punch winner three minutes from time.
A stunning cross from Dani Carvajal evaded the entire Ajax backline and Asensio snuck in around the back to convert from close-range.
Although the Spaniard was the match-winner, VAR, which is being used for the first time in the knockout stages of this season’s competition, made the headlines.
Courtois, whose blushes were spared by the controversial call, revealed prior to tonight’s game that he was a huge supporter of its introduction in Europe.
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He said: “I like it [VAR]. I think we saw in the World Cup it was a good experience with all countries in favour of VAR and it worked well. In Spain, the same thing.
“Sometimes they aren’t sure about the rules and when to intervene, it needs to be a mistake, some people don’t know this. But in general this is football and it if helps it’s good.
“Sometimes it might go against you and the same the other way, so this is fair.”