Sergio Ramos defended referee Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea and the officials after Real Madrid beat Real Betis 3-2 through a contentious late penalty.

Ramos gave Madrid all three points from the spot in the 82nd minute, Marc Bartra adjudged to have handled in the area following a VAR review.

It did appear as though Bartra may have been pushed into the ball by Borja Mayoral, with Betis unfortunate to suffer their first defeat after two successive wins under Manuel Pellegrini.

Earlier Aissa Mandi and William Carvalho had turned the game in Betis' favour following Federico Valverde's opener but Emerson conceded an own goal three minutes after the second-half restart and was then sent off before the game's controversial finish.

"I can't comment on specific incidents," Ramos said to Madrid's official website.

"From what we've been told it was a clear penalty, but there's nothing that can be done about it now.

"Sometimes they help us and sometimes they go against us, but that's football. The referee is there to do the best he possibly can and I don't think it's ever intentional."

Madrid have four points from two games, with their victory at the Benito Villamarin following a 0-0 draw with Real Sociedad.

Ramos added: "We were very good for the first 15 minutes. We dominated the game up until the first goal, which gave us confidence but in the end, we had to dig in.

"If you keep giving the ball to quality teams who like to have possession, they will create chances and you run the risk of them scoring goals.

"The most important thing was our mentality and the team came out hungry to come back, which is exactly what we did. We managed to level it up quickly to get right back in the game.
 
"It serves as a lesson for us. We're not going to come from behind in every game. The other day we played really well but just lacked a bit of an edge. 

"We created a lot of chances today and it was a fantastic second half, we were dominant and it's clinched us the three points which will do us the world of good."

 

Zinedine Zidane claimed his 100th LaLiga victory as Real Madrid head coach on Saturday.

Zidane reached the century milestone in Madrid's thrilling 3-2 win over 10-man Real Betis.

The French great, who celebrated his second LaLiga title in charge of Madrid last season, achieved the feat in 147 games.

Zidane has the second-most league victories in Madrid's history, behind Miguel Munoz (257).

In his second stint at the Santiago Bernabeu, Zidane – whose first win came in January 2016 – has seen his Madrid team score 342 goals while only conceding 142.

Madrid earned their first win of the 2020-21 season, following last week's stalemate against Real Sociedad.

After Federico Valverde's 14th-minute opener for Madrid, Betis turned the match on its head with two goals in three minutes via Aissa Mandi and William Carvalho prior to half-time.

Barcelona-owned Emerson scored an own goal three minutes into the second half before being sent off with 23 minutes remaining, and Madrid made the most of their numerical advantage when captain Sergio Ramos converted an 82nd-minute penalty.

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane has no plans to sign new players before the transfer window shuts following his team's thrilling 3-2 win over Real Betis.

Sergio Ramos scored a late penalty as LaLiga champions Madrid claimed their first win of the 2020-21 season at 10-man Betis on Saturday.

After Federico Valverde's 14th-minute opener, Betis turned the match on its head with two goals in three minutes via Aissa Mandi and William Carvalho prior to half-time.

Barcelona-owned Emerson scored an own goal three minutes into the second half before being sent off with 23 minutes remaining, and Madrid made the most of their numerical advantage when Ramos converted an 82nd-minute penalty.

Zidane was asked about Madrid's transfer activity pre-game, with the Spanish giants quiet since the market re-opened, having allowed the likes of Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez and Brahim Diaz to leave.

Quizzed again on possible new signings post-match, Zidane told reporters: "No. We spoke about this before. I'm happy with the squad that I've got.

"We are what we are and we're going to try to have a successful season."

Reflecting on the match itself following Madrid's goalless draw against Real Sociedad in their season opener, Zidane said: "When you're behind it's difficult to change the dynamics of the game but we managed it today. It's crucial to do that every once in a while.

"We had a lot of chances, and people we talk about how we don't score enough but today we hit three and could have had more. I'm very proud of all the players, they're working brilliantly. We have to keep it up."

"The referee is there to review the action," added Zidane after Betis defender Marc Bartra was penalised for handball. "I think that in the end it's just what happened. He's in charge. I never get involved with the referees and I'm not going to get involved today. The most important thing for us is the game we played at a difficult ground.

"We can be happy with the work done, we had to work hard for it and we managed to take all three points, which is the most important thing."

"In the end it was a very complicated, difficult game," he said. "The players have given their all. It's three very important points for us at a complicated ground and against a team who have just won their first two games. We are happy. We know there is a long way to go and that we can and will improve."

Zidane also handed a rare start to out-of-favour forward Luka Jovic, who continues to be linked with a loan move away from the Santiago Bernabeu.

Jovic – playing alongside Karim Benzema – was tripped when through on goal as Emerson was shown a red card past the hour-mark, and Zidane said: "What I was looking for was to play in the opposition's half with a different formation.

"We can play in different ways and one of them is with the two forwards. We can be happy with the game because in the end we got all three points."

Sergio Ramos' late penalty secured Real Madrid their first win of the 2020-21 LaLiga season as Los Blancos won 3-2 at 10-man Real Betis, for whom Barcelona-owned Emerson endured something of a nightmare.

Zinedine Zidane's men began their title defence with an underwhelming 0-0 stalemate with Real Sociedad, and while they were only marginally better in Seville, they just about made the most of their numerical advantage.

Madrid initially looked good value for their lead when Federico Valverde prodded them in front, but Betis showed excellent resilience to turn it around.

Aissa Mandi and William Carvalho did the damage in a three-minute salvo, the latter netting in successive games having not scored in his first 57 outings for the club.

Things began to look up for Madrid early in the second half when Emerson found his own net before then getting sent off, and Los Blancos completed the win thanks to Ramos' spot-kick eight minutes from time.

Marcelo will miss Real Madrid's trip to Real Betis after a back injury stopped him from travelling for Saturday's LaLiga fixture.

The Brazil international was initially named in Zinedine Zidane's 22-man squad for the game but was forced to withdraw at the last minute.

In a short statement on the club's website, Madrid revealed Marcelo would not be involved after "feeling discomfort in his back", meaning he has remained in the Spanish capital.

The 32-year-old defender was an unused substitute for the reigning champions' opening outing of the new campaign, watching on from the bench as Zidane's side drew 0-0 at Real Sociedad.

Having played the full game at the Reale Arena last weekend, Ferland Mendy seems set to continue on the left side of Madrid's defence against Betis.

As well as Marcelo, Madrid are also missing Marco Asensio and Eden Hazard. However, Isco and Lucas Vazquez could feature in Seville after recovering from injuries.

Zinedine Zidane insists he will not put pressure on the Real Madrid board to bring in attacking reinforcements before the transfer window closes.

Madrid have been quiet since the market re-opened and the 0-0 stalemate at Real Sociedad to kick off their LaLiga title defence in underwhelming fashion suggested Zidane might have to seek solutions beyond his squad.

However, despite allowing creative talents such as Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez and Brahim Diaz to leave, the head coach told reporters ahead of Saturday's match against Real Betis that he will not be pestering Florentino Perez to get the chequebook out.

"This is the squad I have to work with, I'm not going to ask for anything more," he said.

"But I know that anything can happen between now and October 5.

"I think the best thing for all managers is that the transfer deadline comes and goes.

"I think I have the best squad and I'm thoroughly behind my players."

Perhaps Madrid's more recent attempts to spend big and bolster their attack are serving as cautionary tales.

Eden Hazard is still building up match fitness and unavailable, the stop-start nature of his underwhelming first season at the Santiago Bernabeu apparently playing on a loop few take any pleasure in watching.

"He's okay, that injury isn't a bother anymore," Zidane said of the damaged foot that required surgery last term.

"But he needs to get training sessions under his belt, he needs to work for the team and go slow.

"In a short time, he'll be with the squad. What we want and what the player wants is to be part of that first-team fold and playing."

Luka Jovic was again an unused substitute in San Sebastian but Zidane maintains the former Eintracht Frankfurt favourite has a role to play, perhaps even in tandem with first-choice striker Karim Benzema.

"They can play together. But we've got a lot of games coming up and there are lots of different playing styles and formations. Every game is different," he said.

"We also have to take into account our opponents. Also, like I said, every game is different and you have to choose players accordingly.

"I've never said Karim and Jovic can't play together up front. I can see it, definitely."

Zidane added: "Last season we won two titles, so we obviously had no problem scoring and winning titles

"You go through periods where sometimes you struggle to score and put those chances away but it's something you work on to improve."

Will Manchester City finally land Kalidou Koulibaly?

Pep Guardiola's City want defensive reinforcements and Napoli centre-back Koulibaly is reportedly at the top of the list.

If they are unsuccessful, Sevilla's Jules Kounde is next on the list.

 

TOP STORY – CITY NOT GIVING UP KOULIBALY

Manchester City are still in talks with Napoli to sign star defender Kalidou Koulibaly, according to journalist Fabrizio Romano.

City have been tipped to sign Koulibaly, who has also been linked to Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain.

However, City are yet to reach an agreement with Napoli and Sevilla's Jules Kounde is the "backup option" but a bid has already been turned down.

 

ROUND-UP

- Romano says Wolves will complete the signing of Barcelona full-back Nelson Semedo on Monday. It comes as Barca eye Ajax defender Sergino Dest or Real Betis' Emerson to replace Semedo. Norwich City's Max Aarons has also been linked.

Milan have made Fiorentina's Nikola Milenkovic their number one defensive target ahead of Celtic centre-back Kristoffer Ajer, reports the Daily Record.

- Calciomercato claims Juventus are eyeing Real Madrid full-back Marcelo. The Brazilian has been repeatedly linked with a Cristiano Ronaldo reunion in Turin.

- The Telegraph says PSG are interested in Tottenham's Dele Alli. Out of favour under Jose Mourinho, Spurs are reportedly targeting Manchester United's Jesse Lingard as a replacement.

Roma remain interested in Napoli's Arkadiusz Milik but Madrid outcast Luka Jovic has emerged as 'Plan B', according to Calciomercato.

Leeds United are out of the race to sign Dinamo Zagreb sensation Josko Gvardiol, reports Romano. Wanted by Marcelo Bielsa, the Croatian teenager is now set for Bundesliga outfit RB Leipzig.

Manchester City have confirmed Claudio Bravo has left the club following the conclusion of his contract.

The 37-year-old Chilean goalkeeper signed from Barcelona in 2016 after two years with the Blaugrana.

His arrival at City came shortly after Pep Guardiola took over as manager, helping to establish the Catalan's possession-based philosophy.

Guardiola favoured Bravo's skillset – specifically his greater passing ability – to that of previous first-choice shot-stopper Joe Hart and he made 30 appearances in all competitions in his debut season.

Bravo's form was rarely consistent, and he spent the rest of his City career as back-up to Ederson following his move from Benfica in 2017.

Bravo leaves having won two Premier League titles and two EFL Cups.

While his next move is uncertain, Bravo has been most prominently linked with Celtic and Real Betis, who will be coached by former City boss Manuel Pellegrini next season.

Barcelona are set to re-sign Ansu Fati until 2024, while Real Madrid are eyeing "the new Raphael Varane".

Fati, 17, has been linked with a stunning move to Manchester United after a breakthrough season at Barca.

But the teenage forward seems to be going nowhere.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA TO EXTEND FATI STAY UNTIL 2024

Barcelona are set to renew Fati's contract until 2024, according to the cover of Sport.

Out of contract in 2022, Fati has scored eight goals in 32 games this season, leading to links to Manchester United.

Sport also reports Barcelona are prepared to listen to offers for attacker Ousmane Dembele.

ROUND-UP

- Are Real Madrid looking to sign a new defender? AS reports the LaLiga giants are closely following Monaco defender Benoit Badiashile, who it compares to Madrid star Raphael Varane.

- Raul Jimenez could be set for a Wolves exit. RTP Sport says Jimenez is on his way to Manchester United and Wolves are on the verge of signing Sporting Braga striker Paulinho as his replacement.

- Barcelona may be preparing to strengthen their defence. Mundo Deportivo claims three defenders – Bayern Munich's David Alaba, Paris Saint-Germain's Juan Bernat and Manchester City's Eric Garcia – are within range for the LaLiga giants.

- Tanguy Ndombele continues to be linked with a move away from Tottenham. Sky Sport reports Inter have made contact with Spurs about the midfielder.

- Where to next for Willian? Coming out of contract at Chelsea at season's end, the attacker's future is uncertain. Sky Sports says Chelsea, Barcelona and Inter Miami have made contract offers to the Brazil international.

- A player looking likely to leave Stamford Bridge is Kepa Arrizabalaga. The Sun reports the goalkeeper fears he has played his last game for Chelsea.

- After Dejan Lovren's departure, Liverpool continue to be linked with defenders. COPE reports the Premier League champions have made an offer of £9.1million (€10m) for Real Betis defender Aissa Mandi.

Manuel Pellegrini hopes to get Real Betis back to challenging for European qualification when he takes over next season. 

Betis last week announced Pellegrini's appointment as head coach on a three-year deal, though sporting director Alexis Trujillo will remain in charge for the rest of the campaign. 

Trujillo was appointed on an interim basis after the Andalusian club dispensed with Rubi three games after LaLiga resumed following its suspension amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Betis are 13th in LaLiga but Pellegrini, who took Villarreal to the Champions League semi-finals in 2006 and then Malaga to the last eight of the same competition in 2013, hopes to get them challenging near the top again. 

The club reached the round of 32 in the Europa League last season, their first appearance in the competition since going out on penalties to local rivals Sevilla in 2014, and participated in the Champions League for the first and only time in 2005-06. 

"Although the results have not been adequate, there has been institutional progress which must go hand in hand with the results on the field," Pellegrini said when presented to the media on Monday. 

"We will contribute with our experience to get the best out of the team, to have committed players. 

"It is everyone's job, we are on the same boat and the objectives are more feasible to achieve this way, with a winning mentality, because this is a team that should be fighting for European places." 

He added: "I had other offers, but I preferred Betis because I believe in the club's project. They want to make Betis grow and they have done so, although perhaps not with the results on the pitch due to different circumstances." 

Betis handed club legend Joaquin a one-year contract extension in December, meaning he has a deal at the Estadio Benito Villamarin until just before his 40th birthday.

Pellegrini is looking forward to reuniting with the winger, who he coached at Malaga, and a number of other players.

"Joaquin's career speaks for itself. At 38 or 39 years old, he is capable of making a difference, scoring eight goals this season," said Pellegrini.

"I'm very happy to coach him again, we had a great season together at Malaga. He brings experience, personality, joy and he will be important for the dressing room.

"I have no doubt that he can still bring many things to Betis.

"I am happy to be with him again, as with Juanmi, who I had at Malaga, and [Sergio] Canales who I was with at Real Madrid, and Javi Garcia at Manchester City."

Diego Simeone is looking for improvement from Atletico Madrid despite securing Champions League qualification once more.

A 74th-minute goal from Diego Costa saw 10-man Atletico overcome Real Betis 1-0 on Saturday to qualify for the Champions League for an eighth straight season.

Atletico had only played in Europe's top club competitions eight times in total before qualifying for the 2013-14 Champions League.

But head coach Simeone is refusing to rest, eager for Atletico to continue growing.

"I don't stop to analyse what is being done," he told a news conference, via AS.

"We always seek to improve and grow and the only way is to give the club the possibility with our work on the field that they can manage the tremendous growth of the club in these years.

"If there was a moment to qualify for the Champions League as it was, it was what happened in the match, because this is us.

"They hit us and we got up and we always compete and we will continue to compete, having all the energy so that all four legs – fans, players, coach and club – we stay firm.

"This is Atletico Madrid and I think that in the second half when it seemed that everything was going to suffer, we won."

Costa's winner came 17 minutes after Atletico were reduced to 10 men when Mario Hermoso was sent off.

Atletico are on a 16-match unbeaten run ahead of visiting Getafe on Thursday.

Diego Costa denied that his goal in Atletico Madrid's 1-0 victory over Real Betis was scored with the assistance of his arm.

Atleti secured the win they needed to clinch a top-four finish in LaLiga on Saturday, despite playing over half an hour with 10 men following Mario Hermoso's straight red card for a foul on Loren Moron.

Costa was sent on as one of a trio of attacking changes just before Hermoso's dismissal and, after Diego Simeone's side absorbed some late pressure, he guided Yannick Carrasco's free-kick into the bottom-right corner to seal the three points.

Betis defender Marc Bartra played Costa onside but a lengthy VAR check was conducted to see whether the Atleti striker had used his arm in the process of scoring.

The replays appeared inconclusive and the goal was allowed to stand, unlike first-half efforts for Angel Correa and Alvaro Morata that were chalked off with video assistance.

"It would be one thing if they called it offside for my goal but it didn't come off my arm. I'm very clear it wasn't [handball] and I'm happy," Costa told Movistar.

"It was a difficult game after Mario's red card. Our goal was to finish in the top four. Now we have that and we've got two more games we have to try to win to continue our good form.

"I think it was a good sign that we scored from a set-piece. We were in control. What happened in the second half made it more difficult, but we had a bit of luck and got the win.

"I don't know why we always have to suffer like this, but we always suffer and win. If we don't suffer, we don't feel right, so we're happy and we'll look for more glory."

Referee Jose Luis Gonzalez Gonzalez maintained his decision to dismiss Hermoso after a trip to the pitchside monitor, but Costa felt a booking would also have been a fair punishment.

"If they'd given a yellow card for Mario Hermoso then fine. I think it was on the limit and in the end the referee has to make the decision, but I think a yellow or red was fair," he said.

Guido Rodriguez disagreed with Costa's assessment of the goal, claiming the ball clearly struck the attacker's arm.

"We saw that when Costa scored it touched his arm, but they didn't make that decision, so that's how it was," the Betis midfielder said.

"We played with a player more, looking for the goal, but we leave pretty annoyed because we couldn't get it."

Diego Costa guaranteed 10-man Atletico Madrid's place in next season's Champions League by heading home the winner in a 1-0 LaLiga victory over Real Betis.

Atleti looked destined to hold on for at most a draw after Mario Hermoso was shown a straight red card for a foul on Loren Moron, but substitute Costa steered home Yannick Carrasco's free-kick in the 74th minute to secure a top-four finish for Diego Simeone's men.

After seeing goals for Angel Correa and Alvaro Morata overturned by VAR, there were concerns Costa's header would be ruled out during a lengthy check for handball.

However, the goal was allowed to stand, ensuring Atleti will return to European football's top table in 2020-21.

 

Diego Simeone is not thinking about resting his Atletico Madrid stars ahead of the return of the Champions League.

Atleti were pitted against RB Leipzig in the quarter-final draw on Friday, with the winner of that game taking on Atalanta or Paris Saint-Germain in the last four of the mini-tournament that will be hosted in Lisbon next month.

Simeone's side will secure a top-four finish in LaLiga if they defeat Real Betis on Saturday - with three games remaining they sit six points clear of Villarreal, whom they hold the upper hand over in the head-to-head record.

Despite being so close to guaranteeing a return to the Champions League next season, the Atleti boss is not considering rotating his players.

"Every time we select a line-up, we do so thinking of winning the game. Tomorrow [Saturday] will be no exception," Simeone told the media on Friday.

"It will be a very important game. It is a game which can give us the access to next season's Champions League, which is what we really want and have been looking for and working towards for a long time.

"We will try to be at our best in the game; looking at the training today in order to know who are best for tomorrow's game, which is the most important. And after, we will try to put that in the pitch, the only useful thing."

Having knocked out defending champions Liverpool in the Champions League last-16 and landed in the kinder half of the draw for the final stages, Atletico are considered strong candidates to go all the way.

Simeone does not see it that way, though, pointing to the threat Leipzig pose.

"They are always the same people who either exaggerate or discredit you. As I am trying to escape from extremes, I will only say what I said already after the draw," the Atleti boss said.

"We are going to face a good team with quick attacking players. A team that scores many goals and finished a great season in Germany."

Manuel Pellegrini will take over as head coach of Real Betis from next season, the club confirmed on Thursday.

Former Manchester City and Real Madrid boss Pellegrini has agreed a three-year contract at the Estadio Benito Villamarin.

The 66-year-old Chilean had been without a team since being sacked by West Ham last December.

Betis fired Rubi just three games after LaLiga's restart, following its suspension amid the coronavirus pandemic, leaving the team in 14th.

Sporting director Alexis Trujillo was handed the reins until the end of the season and has overseen two wins in five games.

Although Pellegrini's greatest achievement is a Premier League and EFL Cup double with City in 2013-14, he has impressed in LaLiga with teams from outside the established elite.

He led Villarreal to the Champions League semi-finals in 2005-06 and to a second-place finish in the top flight two years later.

Pellegrini spent a trophy-less 2009-10 with Madrid before taking over Malaga and being denied a return to the Champions League semi-finals in 2012-13 by a pair of stoppage-time goals from Borussia Dortmund.

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