Ajax’s Nicolas Tagliafico celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates before it was disallowed after referral to VAR. (Source: Reuters)

UEFA Champions League saw its first VAR decision in the tournament’s history turn into a controversy as Ajax had a goal disallowed in the first half in their Round of 16 first leg match against reigning champions Real Madrid on Wednesday.

During the 38th minute of the first leg taking place at Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam, Nicolás Tagliafico’s gave the underdogs lead but while the players celebrated, the headed goal was ruled out following a VAR review.

Watch the disallowed goal here:

The referee identified that Tagliafico’s teammate Dušan Tadic was in an offside position and interfering with the goalkeeper, preventing him from playing or being able to play the ball – as the header was being made. This was in line with VAR protocol and the goal was correctly overturned and a free-kick given for offside.

The referee Damir Skomina took his time to assess the footage before making the difficult decision, which was received by boos from the home crowd.

Speaking to BT Sport, Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois called it the ‘right decision’. He said, “I think it was the right decision, when it happened I thought maybe offside. It was a mistake by me but I went to go and catch it and Tadic made an attempt to shoot, yet didn’t touch it, and as he’s offside he’s offside. Because of his intention I made a quick movement and the ball bounced on my arm. It was an unlucky goal for me to concede but when I saw the screen I saw a possible offside. I think it was the correct decision and luckily for us there was VAR because otherwise nobody would have seen it.”

However, the VAR decision was not welcomed by everyone. Speaking after the match, Ajax manager Erik Ten Hag said, “Why was it disallowed? I heard several reasons, offside, hindering the goalkeeper. But I have not seen it. We dominated, forced many chances, but scored too little. Real never allow many possibilities. This was perhaps our best game of this season.”

Meanwhile, Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong said that such decisions ‘easily fall in favour of big clubs’. “As a team we did well. It’s a shame that our goal was disallowed. Maybe something like that falls easily in favour of the big club, we’ve also had that. But we continued well and also had our chances afterwards. Pity that it didn’t yield a better result,” he said.

Here are some of the best reactions to the VAR decision:

Real Madrid won 2-1, with Marco Asensio hitting the winner after Karim Benzema had earlier found the net. Hakim Ziyech scored Ajax’s goal.