Still mired in controversy over its payments to the company of a former refereeing committee official, Barcelona restored its lead over Real Madrid to nine points in the Spanish league on Sunday after a late VAR decision went its way.
Barcelona beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0 after video review disallowed an 87th-minute goal by Bilbao forward Iñaki Williams for a handball in the buildup. VAR also was used to confirm Barcelona’s winning goal by Raphinha after it was initially disallowed for offside.
“I thought they were looking at offsides, but then I saw it on the video board, and I think it was a handball,” Barcelona coach Xavi said.
Williams laughed at the decision on Twitter after the game.
“We are upset,” Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde said. “Nobody on the field had seen anything, not even the referee or the fourth official or the other assistants.”
The review of Williams’ goal took nearly three minutes. When the decision was announced, it drew loud jeers from the home fans at San Mamés Stadium.
Madrid had moved to six points off the lead with a 3-1 win at Espanyol at home on Saturday. Barcelona and Madrid play the final league “clasico” next week at Camp Nou stadium.
Without Mourinho, 10-man Roma lose 4-3 to Sassuolo
Without coach José Mourinho on the bench, Roma lost 4-3 at home to Sassuolo on Sunday in a miserable weekend for teams chasing the Champions League qualifying spots from Serie A.
Armand Laurienté scored twice for Sassuolo before Nicola Zalewski pulled one back. But Roma defender Marash Kumbulla was sent off for violent conduct at the end of the first half and Domenico Berardi converted the resulting penalty.
Paulo Dybala got 10-man Roma back into the match at the start of the second half but Andrea Pinamonti all but sealed the result with 15 minutes remaining before Georginio Wijnaldum’s late goal.
Roma remained level on points with AC Milan, which hosts relegation-threatened Salernitana on Monday and will be looking to make the most of its rivals’ slipups.
Third-place Lazio was two points ahead of Roma and Milan after drawing at Bologna on Saturday, with Inter a point further ahead following its shock loss at Spezia on Friday.
Roma’s next Serie A match is against Lazio and Mourinho will again not be on the bench as he serves a two-match ban.
The home side was looking to move level with Inter in second and almost took the lead with less than two minutes on the clock as Wijnaldum was sent clear but he fired straight at Sassuolo goalkeeper Andrea Consigli.
Instead it was Sassuolo which took the lead in the 13th minute as Roma lost the ball in midfield to spark a counterattack. Davide Frattesi’s shot was charged down by Chris Smalling, then Pinamonti’s effort was parried by goalkeeper Rui Patrício but Laurienté tapped in the rebound.
Laurienté doubled his and Sassuolo’s tally five minutes later but Roma recovered from the shock to pull one back in the 26th when Zalewski’s volley bounced into the ground and over Consigli.
Matters went from bad to worse for Roma on the stroke of halftime when Kumbulla was shown a straight red card for a kick at Berardi, who then drilled home the spotkick.
Scare for Juventus
Juventus survived a scare and missed a penalty but beat bottom club Sampdoria 4-2 to close in on a European spot despite its hefty points punishment.
The Bianconeri, which was deducted 15 points at the start of the year for false accounting, moved to within four points of sixth-place Atalanta.
Juventus appeared to be heading for an easy win after goals from Bremer and Adrien Rabiot put the hosts 2-0 up after 26 minutes.
But Samp hauled itself level in the 32nd after Tommaso Augello and Filip Đuričić scored in the space of less than 90 seconds.
Rabiot doubled his tally in the 64th and Dušan Vlahović had the chance to extend Juve’s lead four minutes later — after Augello tripped Juan Cuadrado — but fired the penalty off the left post.
Teenage debutant goalkeeper Martin Turk also pushed a shot from Cuadrado onto the woodwork to keep his side in the match.
Turk also parried a header from Vlahović in stoppage time at point-blank range but Matías Soulé headed in the rebound for his first senior goal.