Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos has denied accusations he got himself booked on purpose in the 2-1 win over Ajax in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday. He risks receiving an additional one-match ban if found to have intentionally received the yellow card.
As Goal shared, the Spain international sought to clarify comments he made earlier that may have implicated him:
Per MailOnline's Spencer Morgan, the 32-year-old was carded for a late lunge, and he will miss the return leg as a result. When asked about the incident in an interview with El Chiringuito he initially appeared to admit he took the booking on purpose: "Not to underestimate the opponent, but sometimes you have to take these decisions, and that's what I decided."
Catalan outlet Sport expect him to be banned despite his later clarification.
BT Sport's official Twitter account relayed the sequence of events, and their experts immediately suggested it was no accident:
Ramos entered the match with two yellow cards to his name, with one more booking meaning a suspension. By sitting out the second leg, his slate will be cleared for what should be a more difficult quarter-final tie.
With two away goals under their belt, Real will be clear favourites to advance from the second leg against a talented but relatively inexperienced Ajax team.
Several outlets interpreted Ramos' initial comments as an admission of guilt, including Mirror Football:
But as Morgan noted, UEFA regulations state players can receive a two-match suspension for "clearly" getting booked on purpose. Los Blancos were hit with such a ban in 2017 when Dani Carvajal took a booking against APOEL.
Morgan also reported Ramos has been accused of being booked intentionally in the past on several occasions.
Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio scored second-half goals for Los Blancos to put them in the driver's seat of the tie, with Hakim Ziyech handing Ajax some hope ahead of the second leg. The return will be played in the Spanish capital on March 5.