Zinedine Zidane believes it was the right decision to rule out a Luuk de Jong goal in Real Madrid's 2-1 victory over Sevilla on Saturday.

Madrid moved top of LaLiga as two goals from Casemiro secured all three points at the Santiago Bernabeu, despite De Jong having briefly made it 1-1 in the second half.

The striker thought he had given Sevilla the lead half an hour in, but his header was disallowed following a VAR check, with referee Juan Martinez Munuera instead penalising Nemanja Gudelj for blocking Eder Militao in the build-up.

Sevilla head coach Julen Lopetegui was aghast at the decision and director of football Monchi claimed he would have taken the team off the pitch had they seen a goal disallowed for a second time when VAR was used to check a possible handball by Munir El Haddadi.

Zidane, though, sees little reason to feel the decisions changed the game.

"What I can say is that I saw the incident and it's a block, there's a foul, the referee saw it on VAR, and he gave the foul," the Madrid boss told reporters.

"For the second, there's a hand, he doesn't give it. I can't explain anything, and I never get into evaluating these things. It's for the referee to decide.

"Sometimes these things go against you and sometimes in your favour. It's a difficult job. It's for them to decide.

"For me, there's a block, it's a foul and it's really normal."

When asked about Monchi's comments, Zidane replied: "I don't think the referee was that decisive. He did what he had to do.

"There's a hand for their goal, but that wasn't given. What can I say? I'm not going to get into it.

"It's a complicated game for everyone. We played against a good team, but the result is logical for what happened on the pitch.

"What he said is his responsibility. It's not for me to say anything. In the end, it's the referee who decides.

"What he said seems a little strong to me, but I'm not going to prevent the Sevilla sporting director from speaking."

Zidane went on to praise the performance of Casemiro, who proved Madrid's unlikely hero by scoring twice in the same game for the first time in his career with the club.

"Good, because in the end he got two goals and that's not usual," he said of Casemiro's performance. "I'm happy for him. We can make the difference in attack with any player."

Sevilla director of football Monchi was incensed by VAR's intervention in the defeat to Real Madrid, claiming he would have walked his team off the pitch had Luuk de Jong seen a second goal disallowed.

Zinedine Zidane's Madrid side claimed a 2-1 victory at the Santiago Bernabeu, with Casemiro scoring either side of a De Jong strike to send the hosts to the top of LaLiga.

Sevilla thought they had taken the lead in the first half through De Jong's header, only for the goal to be disallowed when a VAR check prompted referee Juan Martinez Munuera to penalise Nemanja Gudelj for blocking Eder Militao.

Monchi was left furious by the decision and suggested he would have taken matters into his own hands had VAR intervened again when a possible handball by Munir El Haddadi before De Jong's finish was checked.

"Everyone saw the action. There's no footballing, technical or tactical analysis after such a clear incident that defines the game," Monchi told Movistar.

"There's nothing more to analyse about it. It's absurd.

"If they had ruled out the second goal, I would have come down to the pitch and taken the team off.

"We leave here satisfied with the game despite the defeat because Sevilla are a very big team. We're angry, outraged, and... I stop there."

Head coach Julen Lopetegui insisted there was no clear reason why Sevilla's opening goal should have been ruled out.

"I feel sad. When you lose a game, you're sad," Lopetegui said.

"We played quite a good first half. We deactivated Madrid, we scored an absolutely legal goal.

"I don't know if 'shame' is the right word. If I said that [at the time], it's not appropriate, but there's no reason to disallow the goal. We've seen it and it was legal.

"It's a great goal, a play we worked on throughout the week and I still don't know why it was ruled out."

Leeds United had their promotion hopes dented as they fell to a controversial 1-0 loss at QPR on Saturday.

Marcelo Bielsa's men have only won one of their past seven Championship matches, a streak that started with their astonishing collapse in a 3-3 draw against Cardiff City.

Leaders West Brom can extend their advantage to four points when they host Stoke City on Monday.

Brentford did not take full advantage of Leeds' loss as they drew 0-0 away to Huddersfield Town, meaning Fulham – winners over Middlesbrough on Friday – remain third.

Swansea City's 2-1 home victory over Wigan Athletic saw on-loan Liverpool prospect Rhian Brewster score his first senior goal.

Blackburn Rovers, Bristol City, Derby County, Millwall and Preston North End were the other winning teams, with the 1-1 scoreline between Birmingham City and Cardiff one of only two draws on the day.

 

LEEDS' SLUMP CONTINUES

Nakhi Wells' 20th-minute strike for QPR ultimately proved decisive in London.

Leeds were angry that a handball by Wells as he collected Eberechi Eze's deflected free-kick was not spotted by referee Peter Bankes.

Pablo Hernandez hit the post with a set-piece of his own and Patrick Bamford had a second-half penalty saved by Liam Kelly, who conceded the spot-kick, before Kalvin Phillips received a red card in the closing minutes for a foul on Geoff Cameron.

Leeds' advantage over Fulham has been cut to four points with 18 matches still to play.

 

BRENTFORD HELD AS SWANSEA FIGHT BACK

Brentford started their match knowing a win would put them above Fulham, but they missed the chance to do that and go within three points of Leeds in the process, with Josh Dasilva hitting the post in the closing stages at Huddersfield.

Nottingham Forest have the chance to go level on points with Brentford when they face Luton Town on Sunday, while Swansea sit fifth after coming from behind to beat Wigan.

Nathan Byrne capped a 16th-minute Wigan counter-attack to put the visitors ahead, but Brewster replied inside three minutes before a clever backheel from Andre Ayew after the break won it.

 

WEDNESDAY THUMPED BY BLACKBURN

Wednesday slumped to an astonishing 5-0 home loss against Blackburn, who saw Lewis Holtby score twice.

Massimo Luongo was sent off after Holtby's opener and Wednesday fell apart from there.

Patrick Bauer headed the winner as Preston came from behind to beat Charlton Athletic 2-1 at Deepdale, Josh Harrop having scored a superb leveller.

Millwall are only outside the play-off positions on goal difference after a 2-0 home win over Reading while Derby beat Hull City 1-0, with Bristol City getting the better of Barnsley by the same scoreline after Niclas Eliasson's dramatic winner.

If Real Madrid end the season as LaLiga champions, they may well look back on this win over Sevilla – and the performance of Casemiro – as a defining moment.

This was a game that had the hallmarks of a setback for Zinedine Zidane. Okay, Madrid had beaten Sevilla in 10 consecutive league games in the capital going into this meeting, but Julen Lopetegui has created an obstinacy about the Andalusians that had restricted them to just three away defeats in all competitions this term.

Consider, too, that Madrid went to penalties in the Supercopa de Espana final six days ago before the long flight back from Jeddah. They also started this game without a sizeable host of first-team stars: captain Sergio Ramos was out with a sprained ankle, Eden Hazard, James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale were not in the squad, Federico Valverde was banned and Karim Benzema only able to start on the bench.

Still, one thing about the modern Madrid is that they generally perform to a far higher standard when Casemiro is on the pitch, so maybe this kind of match-winning display was bound to happen eventually. Few would have seen this coming, though.

Zidane has made Madrid extremely tough to score against in recent weeks. They had kept five clean sheets in nine games before Sevilla's visit and conceded only 12 goals in LaLiga all season, a record only matched by, of course, Atletico Madrid.

But they found themselves in trouble on Saturday. Without Ramos to dictate terms from the back, Sevilla's high press had them worried; with a depleted attack, chances of their own were scarce. Luuk de Jong thought he had buried the opening goal just before the half-hour mark only for VAR to intervene and penalise Nemanja Gudelj for blocking Eder Militao.

Amid the uncertainty of their wider display, Casemiro was doing as expected. He made five tackles and won possession 11 times in the match, more than any other player on the pitch, and only Diego Carlos bettered his tally of two interceptions.

Then came the surprise. With 57 minutes gone, Luka Jovic played an inspired backheel into Casemiro's path, he muscled his way through the Sevilla box and chipped an impudent effort beyond Tomas Vaclik. It was a striker's finish, oozing calm and precision – two qualities not always associated with one of Madrid's more ebullient characters.

Twelve minutes later, it happened again.

De Jong had equalised with a finish of the highest quality – a rare incident this season. Five minutes on, Lucas Vazquez sent in a cross and the unmarked Casemiro rose highest and nodded home his second goal of the game. Even rarer.

Casemiro had never scored twice in a Madrid match before and he cannot have ended many games with no team-mate having attempted more shots. Indeed, he could have had a hat-trick but for a miscued effort in the closing stages.

Casemiro is hardly an unsung hero at the Santiago Bernabeu, but this was a rescue act in a very different guise, his impact in the opponent's box even more important than his tigerish efforts in defending his own.

It means Madrid are unbeaten in 17 games in all competitions and return to the top of the table ahead of Barcelona's game against Granada on Sunday. With their form showing few signs of dipping and with stars aplenty to return, this might prove to be Casemiro's most decisive performance yet.

Barcelona and Juventus are in talks about a possible swap deal involving Ivan Rakitic and Federico Bernardeschi.

Rakitic was linked with an exit from Camp Nou during the close season, but ended up staying at Barca.

But he could be on his way to Turin and Bernardeschi may be heading in the opposite direction.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA, JUVE IN RAKITIC-BERNARDESCHI SWAP TALKS

Barcelona and Juventus are discussing a possible swap deal involving Rakitic and Bernardeschi, according to AS.

The report says Rakitic – who has made just six LaLiga starts this season – has already agreed personal terms with the Serie A giants.

However, the clubs are yet to reach an agreement, with Rakitic six years older than Italy international Bernardeschi.

ROUND-UP

- There is still work to be done if Bruno Fernandes is to find his way to Manchester United. The Daily Mail and The Sun report United want to pay Sporting CP £34million (€39.9m) with a further £25.5m (€29.9m) in add-ons, including bonuses for the English club winning the Premier League and Champions League.

- Atletico Madrid are not giving up on trying to land Edinson Cavani in this window. The LaLiga side are still eyeing a move for the Paris Saint-Germain forward, according to Marca, although they are hoping to negotiate a lower price than the €30m the Ligue 1 club are reportedly wanting.

- The wait continues for Inter as they try to sign Christian Eriksen. CalcioMercato reports Eriksen's agent Martin Schoots is scheduled to meet Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy in London next week as the midfielder tries to get his move to the Serie A giants.

- Chelsea are favourites to sign RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner ahead of the 2020-21 season, according to The Sun, but it may take a £68m (€79.8m) deal to land the 23-year-old.

- Arsenal are set for talks with Athletico Paranaense to negotiate a deal for midfielder Bruno Guimaraes, according to Globo Esporte.

- Staying at Arsenal and France Football reports Paris Saint-Germain left-back Layvin Kurzawa has agreed to join the Premier League club for free at season's end.

- Javier Hernandez will become one of the highest paid players in MLS. Sports Illustrated reports LA Galaxy will pay Sevilla $9.4m (€8.5m) for the forward, who is set to earn $6m annually, with the potential for that to rise due to bonuses.

Fulham moved to within four points of the Championship's automatic promotion places as Anthony Knockaert's early goal proved enough to see off Middlesbrough 1-0.

Scott Parker's side were dominant throughout at Craven Cottage, though wasteful finishing – in the absence of the injured Aleksandar Mitrovic – prevented them from adding to the lead, which Knockaert gave them when he tucked home Joe Bryan's sixth-minute cross.

Josh Onomah and Ivan Cavaleiro spurned great chances shortly after Knockeart's opener, though Boro almost levelled when Hayden Coulson's deflected cross hit the bar.

Denis Odoi had a goal disallowed for offside with 17 minutes remaining, yet Boro could not make the most of their good fortune as Fulham – at least temporarily – moved above London rivals Brentford into third.

Derby County have confirmed they will contest the breach of spending rules they have been charged with by the English Football League (EFL).

The Championship club are accused of recording excess losses over a three-year period ending June 30, 2018.

However, Derby insist the charges – which relate to the £80million sale of their stadium Pride Park to the team's owner Mel Morris and the club's amortisation policy on player contracts – are unfounded.

According to a statement on Derby's official website, the EFL agreed to the sale of Pride Park and have not previously raised an issue over player amortisation.

"As a matter of law, the EFL is not entitled to bring either of the charges, having previously agreed to all of the arrangements surrounding the stadium sale and never having raised the issue of player amortisation before," the statement read.

"At all times, the club has acted transparently with the EFL and, in respect of the charges above, had received written approval for all of its submissions in respect of this legislation. No allegation has been raised to the contrary by the EFL. Rather, the EFL now claims that it made a 'mistake'.

"Had the EFL not given the green light in writing in respect of both charges, the club would have reacted accordingly. The club cannot re-trace the steps of the actions it legitimately took in good faith as a result of EFL approval of both matters.

"The EFL can choose to correct what they now see as an error in their decisions. However, it cannot punish the club for its own errors. The club shall therefore vigorously contest the charges and the EFL's legal right to bring them."

An independent disciplinary commission will hear representations from the EFL and Derby.

Last season, Derby's fellow Championship club Birmingham City were docked nine points following a similar charge from the EFL.

The Rams – who last year secured the signing of former Manchester United and England captain Wayne Rooney – sit 10 points above the relegation zone.

Ashley Young has completed his transfer from Manchester United to Inter for a reported €1.5million (£1.3m).

Jurgen Klopp warned the Anfield factor will be "massive" as he urged Liverpool to set the tempo of Sunday's clash with Manchester United.

Liverpool had to come from behind to draw 1-1 at Old Trafford in October, spared defeat by Adam Lallana's late goal after Marcus Rashford fired United ahead.

United set up to counter-attack on that occasion, despite having home advantage, and their manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this week said his team had "found a nice way of playing" against Liverpool.

Those words could come back to haunt the Norwegian in the Premier League this weekend.

"Maybe they've found a specific way to play against Liverpool, but the difference between playing at Old Trafford and playing at Anfield is massive and we want to show that as well," Klopp said.

Rather than worry about teams 'parking the bus', Klopp's new mission is to stop the train - aware United's attackers can break at electric pace, just as they did to stunning effect in the derby against Manchester City in December.

"This game asks us for perfection. If you lose the ball at the wrong time, the train starts going and that's what is clear, but it's about us to make sure it will not happen," Klopp added.

The United draw remains the only game in which runaway leaders Liverpool have dropped points in the Premier League this season.

Klopp again pointed out his surprise at United's tactics in that previous meeting, and suggested he had no regrets over his comments about their fierce rivals' defensive approach.

"It's strange when you play against a high, high quality team, which is what United still is, and they played the way they play," Klopp said.

"We had it with Tottenham. After 70 minutes I think we had around 80 per cent possession. That's not normal. On the other hand, the counter-attacks are of the highest level in the world, that's for Tottenham and Man United for sure as well.

"I'm not saying they only counter-attack, but that's a main thing for them to do. If people want to see that as criticism, I cannot change that, but it's not, it's just a description of the situation."

Klopp said Fabinho and Joel Matip are fit to return to Liverpool's squad for the game after several months on the sidelines with their respective ankle and knee injuries, but Dejan Lovren will not resume full training until next week.

Zinedine Zidane hailed Sergio Ramos as an example to everyone at Real Madrid after the captain made an unexpected bid to feature against Sevilla in LaLiga on Saturday.

Ramos dispatched the winning penalty as Madrid claimed the Supercopa de Espana at the expense of rivals Atletico Madrid last weekend.

But the 33-year-old defender suffered a sprained ankle during the game and was expected to spend a spell on the sidelines until he emerged for training at Valdebebas on Friday.

"We know the character that Sergio has," Zidane told a pre-match news conference. "He always wants to play. He's done everything possible this week to be available and to be ready.

"He is a great example to the rest of the team. He's our reference for everyone at this club and an example everyone should follow."

Ramos' centre-back partner Raphael Varane is in line to make a landmark 300th appearance in Madrid colours this weekend.

Zidane first took charge of his countryman, who joined the 13-time European champion from Lens in 2011, when he featured in the club's youth categories.

"I knew the potential he had when he came, I knew he could play a lot of games for us," he said,

"But, in eight years, 300 games is not something that everyone can get to.

"I hope he can play another 300 – at least another 100!"

Behind Ramos and Varane, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is enjoying a strong run of form, with his performance in the Supercopa final standing in stark contrast to some of the struggles he experienced after joining from Chelsea before the start of last season.

"I think he's proven since the day he came that he's a great goalkeeper. He's always been a part of the group of the best goalkeepers in the world," Zidane added.

"He's had some difficult moments, of course. He's known how to overcome these difficult moments and he knows the level that he's got.

"With a lot of hard work he's been able to bring himself up to this level and we're very happy for him."

Diego Simeone fully expected Federico Valverde to be given only a short suspension following his crucial foul on Alvaro Morata in the Supercopa de Espana final.

With the score 0-0 in the final five minutes of extra time in Jeddah, Atletico Madrid's Morata raced through on goal only for Valverde to bring down the striker to halt his progress.

Valverde, who was later named man of the match, was sent off for the deliberate foul but went on to celebrate when Real Madrid won the penalty shoot-out 4-1.

Simeone had few qualms with the challenge at the time, insisting he would likely have done the same to win the match, and the Atleti boss was also not surprised to see Valverde earn only a one-game ban.

"I was clear after the match, saying that was what he had to do," Simeone said on Friday ahead of a LaLiga trip to Eibar. "I was also clear about what would happen.

"It doesn't make sense to wear myself out today on something that we already knew would happen. That's why I'm focusing on Eibar.

"We're in the middle of the season and there's still a lot of work ahead. There are things to improve. We worked well until September, then things were more difficult in November.

"Then we grew and we kept that up in the Supercopa. We're competing well and I'm proud to have competed well against a team like Real Madrid that is powerful in all senses."

The Supercopa final was another difficult game for €126million forward Joao Felix, but Simeone insists the Portugal international is learning all the time.

"The Supercopa was another step forward in the experience of a 20-year-old boy with incredible talent and skill. This road he's walking will be useful for the future," Simeone said.

"We believe in him; we need his skills. He has the ability to score. We hope that these experiences he's living in this new team help him to get stronger and grow day after day.

"We're the ones in charge to find their better version and find the better position so they can unlock their potential. I don't do things differently with Joao than with [Renan] Lodi, [Hector] Herrera, Koke or Saul [Niguez].

"We always try to do the best so players with that potential can put it to good use for the club and the team, so we're working with him and Lodi, the younger ones, so they can grow."

This weekend is the first round of LaLiga matches since Ernesto Valverde was sacked as Barcelona head coach in the wake of their 3-2 Supercopa semi-final loss to Atleti.

"I'm not the one to give an opinion about what happens to others," Simeone said. "Valverde is a really great coach. He left his team in first place in the league and still alive in the Champions League.

"He is a great person and has always been polite and exemplary as he managed the situation."

Bayern Munich boss Hansi Flick has softened his stance on wanting new players in January as Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry have returned to fitness.

Bundesliga top goalscorer Lewandowski had groin surgery following the 2-0 win over Wolfsburg in December and could not take part in the mid-season training trip to Doha.

Gnabry hurt his Achilles during the camp and only returned to full training this week ahead of the second half of the Bundesliga season.

Flick had stated publicly he wanted new signings to bolster Bayern's trophy push, comments that left sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic "surprised".

However, with Lewandowski and Gnabry ready to face Hertha Berlin on Sunday, Flick no longer appears desperate to bring in new faces in the transfer window.

"The injury situation has improved. Robert Lewandowski is back, so too Serge Gnabry, with a new haircut!" he told reporters on Friday.

"Robert is close to 100 per cent. He is an absolutely top professional and, when we were in Doha, he worked very well individually. Even when he was shooting, he didn't feel any pain.

"Lucas Hernandez will train on the pitch today. Javi [Martinez] and Kingsley [Coman] are a few weeks away. The goal is to have everyone together again in February and March, because then the tough weeks begin.

"It's true that I said [we need signings], but something has changed in the meantime. With the return of Serge and Robert, we've got two additions.

"I had a good conversation with Hasan and we both want to work successfully. When it comes to arrivals, it's important that players come to help us. I trust Hasan and his scouting department to make it possible for us.

"But that also has to be done carefully. You can't do anything crazy."

Bayern head to the capital in third place in the table, and they could be seven points adrift of leaders RB Leipzig by the time they kick off if Julian Nagelsmann's side beat Union Berlin on Saturday.

"We have to make a strong start. It's very important we start the second half of the season well," said Flick.

"We're all looking forward to it. We face a difficult task against a team that are very compact defensively. We must be prepared for that.

"We have the quality to become champions. Bayern showed last year under Niko [Kovac] that they can catch up. But we have to think from game to game.

"I don't feel any more pressure now than I did before the break. I really enjoy working with my team and coaching staff, but of course you're always under pressure, regardless of the situation."

Zinedine Zidane has sympathy with sacked Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde but does not expect Real Madrid's Clasico rivals to be any less of a threat under Quique Setien.

Barca opted to part ways with Valverde after their Supercopa de Espana semi-final exit at the hands of Atletico Madrid, despite winning LaLiga in each of the former Athletic Bilbao coach's two full seasons at the helm.

This time around the Blaugrana are level on points at the summit with Madrid, who claimed Supercopa glory with a penalty shoot-out triumph against Atleti.

"I'm sorry for him, first of all. That's all I can really say," Madrid manager Zidane told a news conference.

"It's not a great situation but he's a coach who's always shown that he's very good. I've got a great deal of admiration for him

"Each club and each situation is different. Each coach knows what they’re doing and where they're at. They know what the situation is at a big club.

"If we lose two games I'm going to get criticised as well. That happened not too long ago. I know where I am and what the situation is.

"We can’t always play well and win, so it is difficult. But what we try to do is give 100 per cent. It's the same for the coach at Barcelona, we all try and do our best and then you people can go off and talk about whatever you want.

"Things are never going to change, but I'm sorry about Valverde losing his job."

Setien does not have a major honour to his name in his coaching career but there is excitement over how his all-action, high-pressing style will work at Camp Nou.

"I expect them to be the same as always. Barcelona will always compete with all the coaches they have. Nothing is going to change," Zidane said.

"They’re going to do their work and we're going to do ours. Things will always be the same. We’ll always have the same rivalry."

Madrid welcome Sevilla and Julen Lopetegui to the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday, somewhat fittingly at a time when a high-profile sacking is dominating the news agenda.

Lopetegui did not last until November in the 2018-19 season after he succeeded Zidane at the end of the Frenchman's first spell as Los Blancos' boss.

"I don’t have to give any explanations about any of that," Zidane shot back when asked why he and Lopetegui had vastly different records with largely the same squad.

"You have to live every different situation, do what you do.

"He did what he wanted to do here. He's a good coach, he's always proven that – both before and after Real Madrid

"But I've got nothing to say about his period here at Real Madrid. What I can say is he's a good coach. He's proven that again this season."

Peter Bosz is staying with Bayer Leverkusen for another two years after earning glowing praise from Rudi Voller.

The former Ajax and Borussia Dortmund head coach is 13 months into his reign at the BayArena, and earned swift acclaim last season by leading Leverkusen from mid-table into a Champions League place.

This term they sit sixth, just two points behind fourth-placed Dortmund.

Bosz is the coach Leverkusen believe will continue to deliver progress, prompting them to announce a new two-year deal for the head coach on Friday.

A statement on the club's website said: "Bayer 04 Leverkusen are keeping faith with head coach Peter Bosz and his fellow coaches. The Bundesliga club and the Dutchman extended the employment contract, which was due to expire at the end of the current season, until June 30, 2022."

Voller, the former Germany striker and head coach who is now Leverkusen's managing director of sport, praised Bosz's work.

He said 56-year-old Bosz had shown himself to be "a coach whose thumb print is evident in every training session and every game".

Voller added: "He has the crucial ability to continually develop a team.

"Peter's approach to the game fits in perfectly with us as Bayer 04 have played aggressive and high-tempo football with joy for many years.

"Both sides are happy that our partnership will continue after the end of this season. This mutual desire was evident early on. Now was the right time to make it happen."

Bosz welcomed confirmation of his new contract, saying: "We're working hard every day to create the conditions to win titles and look forward to continuing to make progress with Bayer 04."

The Bundesliga returns from its mid-season break this weekend, with Leverkusen away at Paderborn on Sunday.

Adelaide United beat Melbourne Victory 1-0 on Friday to end their four-match losing streak in the A-League.

A first-half goal from Ben Halloran was enough to give the home side all three points at Coopers Stadium.

In their first game since head coach Marco Kurz was sacked and replaced by interim boss Carlos Perez Salvachua, Victory were left to rue missed opportunities as they dropped down to seventh in the table, with Adelaide climbing to fifth.

Victory saw a penalty overturned by VAR after Jordan Elsey was initially penalised for handball, and the first half got worse 32 minutes in when Halloran bundled the ball in at the back post after goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas failed to hold Riley McGree's effort.

Andrew Nabbout fired narrowly wide and Paul Izzo produced three fine saves to keep Victory at bay, before only the woodwork denied Nikola Mileusnic a second for Adelaide.

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