Antoine Griezmann scored a late penalty to give Atletico Madrid a 2-1 La Liga home win over Real Sociedad on Sunday, in a match in which VAR was again under the spotlight following two contentious handball decisions.
The host dominated from the start and Samuel Lino opened the scoring in the 22nd minute with a tidy finish between the goalkeeper and the near post after beating the offside trap following a brilliant long pass by Koke.
Atletico missed several chances, including two strikes off the post, one by Rodrigo de Paul and Axel Witsel from point-blank range, but Sociedad slowly started to take control of the match and almost scored when Mikel Oyarzabal’s shot hit Jan Oblak’s left upright.
In the 67th minute, referee Munuera Montero spent several minutes in a lengthy VAR check for a possible handball inside the box, but decided there had been no infringement.
The visitors equalised through Oyarzabal following a 73rd-minute counter-attack and Oblak made two crucial saves to prevent them from taking the lead.
Atletico was given a lifeline when the referee spotted a handball by Sociedad’s Carlos Fernandez in the 86th minute and Griezmann slotted home the penalty to earn his side the three points.
The Sociedad players and coach Imanol Aguacil were furious, complaining vociferously to referee Munuera Montero as Fernandez had his back to the play when Griezmann’s shot hit his arm.
“When the referee decides, in the end, it’s going to be complicated, but football continues. You have to set rules and not leave it to the referee’s interpretation. Today he whistled in our favour and we won. It won’t always be like that,” Griezmann told DAZN.
“Sometimes the referee sees it clearly and sometimes he does not. Maybe the referee has slept badly and doesn’t feel like interpreting right or wrong. You have to set rules,” the Frenchman added.
Atletico, who has a game in hand, moved up to 19 points from eight games and is fourth in the standings, five points behind leader Real Madrid.