La Liga title race goes to the wire: Atletico and Barcelona in stalemate

La Liga title race goes to the wire: Atletico and Barcelona in stalemate

Dubai: La Liga title race was blown wide open after Barcelona and Atletico Madrid played out a 0-0 draw at Camp Nou on Saturday.

The stalemate means that should third-placed Real Madrid beat fourth-placed Sevilla on Sunday, they will move top of the table — level on 77 points with Atletico — but ahead given their superior head-to-head record with just three games to play. Barcelona moved up to second place on Saturday with 75 points.

“We’re still in the mix. La Liga’s still wide open, three games is a lot even if we know it’s not in our hands anymore,” Barca defender Gerard Pique said. “Anything can happen. I’d like to know if any other side in La Liga has won four in a row, it’s only something we’ve done. If we win our remaining three matches, I think we’ll win the league. We’re going to fight until the end, even if we haven’t done what we needed.”

The visitors enjoyed much the better of the first half, with Barca keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen making a number of stops to keep his side level.

Atleti forward Angel Correa was also denied by a last-gasp block from Clement Lenglet when he appeared set to score, while defender Felipe missed arguably the most gilt-edged opportunity of the game just before the break, firing over from close range after a well-worked corner.

Barca’s best chance came through a piece of brilliance from forward Lionel Messi, who slalomed his way past five opponents, only to see Jan Oblak produce a fingertip save.

The Catalans improved after the break, with substitute Ronald Araujo’s effort ruled out for offside before fellow replacement Ousmane Dembele’s close-range header sailed over the bar.

However, ultimately neither side was able to find a way through and they handed the initiative back to Real in what has been a topsy-turvy season.



2022 T20 World Cup European qualifiers cancelled due to COVID-19

2022 T20 World Cup European qualifiers cancelled due to COVID-19

Dubai: The International Cricket Council on Friday announced that the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Europe Qualifiers — pathway tournaments to the main event in Australia — have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finland was set to host their first ICC event with the Europe A and B qualifiers starting next month. The B Qualifier was due to be hosted between June 30 and July 5 involving the hosts, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guernsey, Hungary, Luxembourg and Sweden. The A qualifier was scheduled to start three days later with Bulgaria, Cyprus, France, Israel, Italy, Malta, Norway, Spain all competing until July 13. Another event in Belgium has also been put on hold.

“After extensive consultation with hosts, participating members, the relevant governments, public health authorities and in line with the ICC’s comprehensive contingency planning of COVID-19 the only course of action was to cancel the events,” said the ICC.

With the three events taking place at the start of the pathway which are three steps away from the World Cup, all tournaments had to be completed by the end of July 2021 to logistically enable the Europe Qualifier currently scheduled for October 2021 to take place, therefore providing no available opportunity to reschedule the events.

Italy, Germany, and Denmark will now qualify from the Qualifiers A, B and C respectively determined by their position in the T20 rankings as of April 30, 2020. They will now join Jersey in the Europe Qualifier scheduled to take place in Spain between October 15 and 21 2021 with two qualifier spots up for grabs in the A or B global qualifiers.



Formula one: Lewis Hamilton tops times in Spanish Grand Prix as Verstappen stutters

Formula one: Lewis Hamilton tops times in Spanish Grand Prix as Verstappen stutters

Dubai: Lewis Hamilton looked poised to continue his dominance of the Spanish Grand Prix after clocking the fastest time during the second practice session on Friday.

Formula One leader Hamilton had a flying lap of 1 minute, 18.170 seconds. Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas was .139 seconds behind Hamilton after the Finn set the fastest time in the first practice session.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, seen as the main challenger to Hamilton’s reign as world champion, finished only ninth fastest at .615 off the pace. Verstappen missed some time on the track while his team worked on the car, and his last lap was cut short when he damaged the right tip of his front wing.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc had the third-best time, followed by Alpine pair Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso, who is back in Spain for his first race since 2018.

Only eight points separate Hamilton from Verstappen at the top of the standings after they finished 1-2 in the first three races.

Hamilton won the season-opener in Bahrain and last week’s race in Portugal. Verstappen won the season’s second race in Italy.

On Saturday, Hamilton will be aiming for his 100th career pole. On Sunday, he will be looking to equal Michael Schumacher’s six wins in Montmelo.



Dana Gas reports a 41% increase in Net Profit in Q1 2021 to Dh88 million

Dana Gas reports a 41% increase in Net Profit in Q1 2021 to Dh88 million

Sharjah: Dana Gas, the Middle East’s largest private sector natural gas company reported a net profit of $24 million (Dh88 million), up 41 per cent in Q1 2021 compared to $17 million (Dh62 million)in Q1 2020.

The increase in net profit was the result of improved revenues from higher production in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), and a reduction in finance cost due to lower borrowings in Q1 2021 as compared to Q1 2020.

Revenue was $106 million, 2 per cent higher compared to $104 million in Q1 2020. The improved performance was mainly due to a 9 per cent production increase in the KRI.

Realised price averaged $44/bbl for condensate and $33/boe for LPG compared to $41/bbl and $30/boe respectively in Q1 2020.

“Dana Gas has delivered a strong quarter with robust operational performance, continuing the positive momentum from the previous period. In the KRI we are moving ahead with our expansion plans to significantly boost production from 440 MMscf/d to 690 MMscf/d by April 2023. This will contribute positively to our top and bottom line,” said Dr Patrick Allman-Ward, CEO of Dana Gas.

“We maintained our strong financial position, with increased production from the KRI and lower financing costs following the repayment of the Company’s outstanding Sukuk in Q4 2020. I am pleased that we maintained the dividend to Shareholders, for the fourth consecutive year, despite adverse economic conditions.”

Production & operations

Group production in Q1 2021 averaged 64,900 boepd, a 2 per cent increase as compared to 63,650 boepd in Q1 2020. The first quarter production increase was driven by the KRI, which grew by 9% to 35,300 boepd from 32,400 boepd, building on the significant production increase in Q4 2020 after the Khor Mor plant by-pass project was completed in July 2020. Production in Egypt declined by 5 per cent to 29,050 boepd, which was more than offset by the increase in production in KRI.

In the KRI, Pearl Petroleum, the company consortium operated by Dana Gas and Crescent Petroleum, fully resumed the expansion project at the Khor Mor field. The first gas train will add 250 million cubic feet per day of much-needed additional gas production to supply the local power stations. The project construction work had been put on hold due to the COVID pandemic but is now on track for a new target start date of April 2023, after agreement to lift the force majeure. The KM250 expansion project involves a further investment by Pearl of $600 million to boost output by almost 60%.

Last month, Dana Gas announced its decision to retain and operate its onshore assets in Egypt alongside the highly prospective Block 6. The Company is currently evaluating its Block 6 Concession Area for drilling an exploration well as soon as possible

Liquidity and collections

Cash and bank balance at end of Q1 stood at $149 million (AED 546mm), an increase of 38 per cent compared to $108 million (AED 396mm) at the end of 2020.

In the KRI, the Company collected $35 million during the quarter with all invoices due from the KRG being settled in full and in a timely manner. At the current oil prices the balance of KRI overdue receivables is expected to be settled by the third quarter of this year. In Egypt, the Company has collected $23 million during quarter one and its receivables at quarter end stood at $131 million.

At the General Assembly of the Company held on 28 April 2021, the Shareholders approved a cash dividend for the fourth consecutive year. This 5.5 fils per share dividend will be distributed in May.



Dubai's F&B businesses celebrate small wins this Ramadan - and keep costs down

Dubai's F&B businesses celebrate small wins this Ramadan - and keep costs down

Dubai: Dubai’s F&B businesses – from fine dining restaurants to food court stalls – have been able to generate some much-needed cash flow and save on expenses during the Ramadan period, with authorities waiving the need for special permits and screens. With these businesses having had to combat the COVID-19 fallout for 14 months now, operating at normal service during Ramadan is vital for survival.

This was the first time that restaurants in Dubai were allowed to remain open during the day without a permit. With less than a week left of the fasting month, F&B operators look back at how the change in rules has affected their business.

“It’s been a great help to operate during the day, especially since we’ve had reduced capacity for several months,” said Sergio Lopez, CEO of The Pangolin. “Additionally, with Ramadan falling earlier each year, and the weather still being good this time of year, it has been great to be able to operate as normal, while always following government guidelines and respecting Ramadan.”

Ahead of Ramadan, Dubai’s Department of Economic Development issued a circular stating restaurants are not required to obtain a permit to remain open during the day and would also not have to screen visible dining areas during fasting hours. Although the circular came into effect from the first day of Ramadan, Lopez’s restaurant still saw a small decline at the start of the month.

“The business had a bigger dip in the first couple of weeks of Ramadan, as customers, in general, were not so sure of the rules this Ramadan compared to other years,” said Lopez.

The Pangolin is taking advantage of being open during the daytime hours by offering a summer breakfast promotion. There are also special beverage deals as well as lunch and dinner promotions that change depending on the day of the week. “We just launched a new Lazy Friday Lunch deal this month,” added Lopez

Dubai waived the special permits F&B operators needed to operate during the day through the month of Ramadan. Image Credit: Antonin Kelian-Kallouche/Gulf News

Business is steady

“With Bella being a new opening, we were worried about how Ramadan would affect operations,” said Stefano Bassanese, General Manager at Bella Ristorante. “As we had only recently launched our business lunch, we were very grateful to be able to continue operating during the day as many of our non-Muslim guests had enquired before the start of Ramadan what our working hours would be.”

According to Bassanese, their business has remained steady throughout the month. “We actually have a lot more “early-diners” who have come to Bella to end their fast,” he said. 

For Ramadan, Bella is offering a five-course Iftar menu available daily from sunset priced at Dh250 per person. Image Credit: Supplied

“When we planned this menu, we wanted to keep our authentic Italian cuisine, but fuse it with Arabic flavours and use local ingredients to create dishes that were both traditional yet contemporary to attract the fasting customers,” Bassanese explained.

Navigate a crisis

Bla Bla, a foodie destination and beach club in JBR, has been fully booked on most days. “We are absolutely grateful to be able to operate during the day,” said Andy Erokhin, Operations Director. “We are a brand new venue and launching such a large project during a pandemic was tough enough, so being able to be in business during Ramadan was great for us.

“Because we offer so many different experiences and we’re still new to the market, we’ve been busy. The beach club is full on most days and the restaurant has seen an increase during the day with people having breakfast and lunch for business meetings and get-togethers.”

Daytime dining at Bla Bla has seen an increase this month, because of competitive deals. Image Credit: Supplied

Bla Bla’s breakfast deal is priced at Dh65 per person and includes a selection of dishes and breakfast items. “In the upcoming week, we are also announcing a new set lunch menu, which will be available during weekdays,” said Erokhin. “I think it’s important to be competitive and also to offer guests the best opportunities to try a range of the items on the menu.”

Now that Ramadan is coming to an end, F&B brands have to brace themselves for warmer temperatures – and less inclination among patrons to step out of their homes or offices. It’s always an uphill battle for F&B…



NRIs to be taxed under domestic law while carrying out transaction over Rs20 million (Dh995,994)

NRIs to be taxed under domestic law while carrying out transaction over Rs20 million (Dh995,994)

New Delhi: Non-resident Indians (NRI) in transactions with those in India will be liable for tax under the country's law - even if they do not have a physical presence in India and operate digital businesses.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes has notified new rules for operation of business by NRIs under which any transaction over Rs20 million (around $27,100; Dh995,994) in respect of goods, services or property carried out by them with a person in India. This also applies to download of data or software in India.

The new provisions are applicable with effect from Financial Year 2021-22. It had become fully functional now with CBDT notifying the thresholds for triggering SEP and consequently tax liability in India.

Gulf News

The provisions of Significant Economic Presence (SEP) will also apply if the number of users with whom continuous business activities are solicited exceeds Rs300,000. These provisions were introduced as legislation in 2018 with an intent to tax non-residents operating online-based businesses that function without a physical presence. It meant that SEP of a non-resident in India shall constitute a 'business connection' in India.

According to PwC, the Central government has now made it clear that economic presence in India by NRIs is not limited only to the physical presence in India but also includes a virtual establishment. But non-residents could offset the taxability under these provisions by exploring taking relief under Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements.



Abu Dhabi's 5-day quarantine cut for vaccinated fliers is just what airlines need: Wizz Air

Abu Dhabi's 5-day quarantine cut for vaccinated fliers is just what airlines need: Wizz Air

Dubai: Abu Dhabi’s reduced quarantine needs for vaccinated fliers could turn out to be just the lift that airlines have been looking for.

UAE nationals and residents who are vaccinated are now required to undergo five days of quarantining on arrival in the emirate, down from 10 days. This is expected to stimulate demand on routes that were previously shunned by passengers.

It is a welcome move for Wizz Air Abu Dhabi, which operates flights to Athens, Alexandria and Tel Aviv at the moment. Only Israel is on Abu Dhabi’s ‘green list’, whereby passengers are not required to for any quarantine.

Latest initiative has “immediately turned up in our figures - we see pent up demand for Athens being a typical leisure destination,” said Kees Van Schaick, Managing Director of Wizz Air Abu Dhabi. “We certainly think that the more countries are added to the green list of Abu Dhabi, the more that will benefit all the airlines, especially us.”

Regulations hurt

A majority of passengers arriving in Abu Dhabi still have to quarantine for all 10 days. “Self-isolation requirement in returning to Abu Dhabi is not helping traffic,” said Schaick. “We see that our sister airline is flying at the moment into Dubai, and they are able to offer a product for their customers where no such restrictions exist.”

Being cautious

Unlike its peers, Wizz Air has adopted a more cautious approach to building its network during the pandemic. Schaick said Wizz Air will add new routes starting from mid-May and added that a destination’s quarantine status will definitely be a deciding factor.

“We are very keen to open up new routes to ‘green’ countries,” said Schaick. “We see demand picking up lately and, as a consequence, we are considering an increase of frequencies to certain destinations, based on that demand.”



Noodle maker Monde Nissin to raise a whopping $1b in Philippines' biggest IPO

Noodle maker Monde Nissin to raise a whopping $1b in Philippines' biggest IPO

Manila: The producer of Philippines' best-selling instant noodle brand Lucky Me! is selling 3.6 billion shares, it said in a letter to the local stock exchange. Monde Nissin has set a final price of 13.50 pesos per share on offer. That's lower than the 17.50 pesos maximum price indicated in its IPO filing.

Still, at 48.6 billion pesos ($1 billion), Monde Nissin's offering will be the biggest on record in the country. Del Monte Philippines Inc., another food company best known for its pineapple products, last month filed for an IPO that could raise as much as 38.3 billion pesos. (SM Investments Corp.'s 28.8 billion-peso IPO in 2005 was the biggest so far.)

It is not uncommon for Philippine IPOs to price below the maximum indicated level. Monde Nissin's shares are expected to begin trading on June 7, according to an earlier prospectus.

Second of the year

Philippines, which has seen DDMP REIT Inc. raise 13.4 billion pesos in the only stock listing so far this year, has another large deal in the pipeline. National Grid Corp. of the Philippines has picked banks to work on an IPO to raise at least $1.5 billion, Bloomberg reported in March.

Monde Nissin makes crackers, muffins and biscuits, and has a presence in more than 30 countries, according to its website. In 2015, the Makati-based firm acquired British meat substitute maker Quorn Foods Ltd. for 550 million pounds ($764 million).

Monde Nissin plans to use the IPO proceeds for purposes including loan repayment and general corporate use, according to an earlier filing. 



Europa League failure: Time up for Mikel Arteta at Arsenal

Europa League failure: Time up for Mikel Arteta at Arsenal

Dubai: The writing had been on the wall for some time now, with Arsenal plumbing new depths in the English Premier League, but the Londoners’ exit from the Europa League to Spanish side Villarreal on Thursday night confirmed the end of a terrible season for the once ‘invincible’ team.

It will also confirm the end of Mikel Arteta’s time in charge of the side.

While times have been tough at Arsenal since Arsene Wenger’s departure and the glory days on the undefeated guys way back in 2003-04, it is clear that the decision to turn to former club captain Arteta as coach was not the right option.

Arsenal dismissed Unai Emery — Wenger’s replacement — in December 2019 and installed Arteta. It was hardly the return to the glory days as he took them to eighth in the league, their lowest in the Premier League era. But — in a rarity among top clubs these days — he was given a vote of confidence by the board and given time to get things straightened out.

That hasn’t quite been the case. Despite a wealth of talent on paper and an FA Cup victory last season, Arsenal now languish ninth in the league standings and are now also out of Europe once again.

I’ll give you one guess who is in charge of the Villarreal side that ejected them from the Europa League on Thursday night. Yep, Unai Emery. The man they ruthlessly sacked to allow Arteta to make the move down from Manchester City — where he was assistant to Pep Guardiola at the dominant Sky Blues.

However, with such unwanted dramas as the Mesut Ozil debacle and the ill-fated European Super League, things are clearly too much to handle for a manager like Arteta, who needs much more experience before taking on a task such as the one at hand right now at Arsenal.

While another aspiring coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has risen to the task at Manchester United — who now take on Villarreal in the Europa League final thanks to a roller-coaster win over Roma — he is pretty much the exception, with Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney also recently failing to turn great playing careers into triumphant coaching legacies.

Sadly it looks like Arteta will be joining the scrapheap before to long. The job is simply too big for him right now. The bigger headache for those in charge at the London club is where do they turn next, with fans on their back given the Super League backlash. That is no easy question to solve, but Arteta is not the answer.



Expo 2020 Dubai creates blueprint for post-pandemic future

Expo 2020 Dubai creates blueprint for post-pandemic future

As a city that has consistently demonstrated its ability over the past five decades to build bridges across cultures, mitigate crises the world over and inspire action to global challenges of the future, it’s hardly a surprise that Dubai has received the stamp of global approval from all countries participating in Expo 2020 Dubai for its advanced state of readiness to host an exceptional event.

As was evident from the sixth International Participations Meeting (IPM) for Expo 2020 Dubai last week, delegates are united in their commitment to hosting a World Expo that delivers real-life solutions in the post-pandemic era.

More than 370 delegates representing 173 of Expo’s participating countries travelled from around the world to attend in-person the final IPM before the Expo kicks off on October 1- the biggest global event to be staged since the onset of the pandemic.

With less than five months to go, Dubai and the UAE are thus ready to welcome the world and map out a brighter future for humanity with Expo 2020 Dubai

Gulf News

More than 100 years ago, the Spanish Flu and the First World War played havoc with the World Expo as it was then called — bringing a temporary pause to the event for several years.

In the context of the current pandemic, it is a testimony to the extraordinary spirit of human resilience and scientific achievements that Expo 2020 Dubai is all set to throw its doors open to the world in a few months’ time — and there can be no better embodiment of that spirit than Dubai and the UAE, which have been at the forefront of the global war against Covid.

A new post-pandemic epoch

Right from security and logistical readiness to the stringent measures being constantly undertaken to protect the health and well-being of Expo’s participants, visitors and workforce, authorities and the organisers have spared no efforts to ensure that Expo 2020 Dubai attracts millions of people from the world over to join the making of a new post-pandemic epoch.

Indeed, as the large-scale participation and solidarity at the IPM showed, the international community today is eagerly looking forward to Expo 2020 Dubai as the global platform for building better communities and collaborating to create future pathways to prosperity.

The Expo also promises to be an exciting pivot to innovation — providing countries the scope to unleash new ideas to reinvent our world based on its key themes of opportunity, mobility, and sustainability.

In a crisis-filled world that’s in constant flux, the UAE has emerged as a bulwark of stability and business continuity, and Expo 2020 Dubai is the biggest proof of that yet — creating a safe and secure environment for people to create life-changing solutions with a positive impact on both people and the planet.

With less than five months to go, Dubai and the UAE are thus ready to welcome the world and map out a brighter future for humanity with Expo 2020 Dubai.



World Test Championship: Final to see curtain call for New Zealand keeper BJ Watling

World Test Championship: Final to see curtain call for New Zealand keeper BJ Watling

Kolkata: The World Test Championship final against India, scheduled in England from June 18-22, will be the curtain call for BJ Watling - New Zealand’s most successful Test wicketkeeper-batsman and one of the unsung modern heroes of the game.

The 35-year-old, who has been an integral part of the Black Caps’ Test team since his debut in 2009, and holds the Kiwis’ record for Test dismissals with 249 catches (excluding 10 as a fielder) and eight stumpings, has decided to retire from all forms of cricket after their upcoming tour of England, New Zealand Cricket said on Wednesday.

New Zealand are set to play two Tests against England, beginning June 2, followed by the WTC final. It will be a fitting finale to Watling’s career, one of the most under-rated keeper-batsman in the game, if they can stage an upset win over Virat Kohli & Co for Test cricket’s ultimate prize.

MORE ON WTC FINAL

Watling, who also represented New Zealand in 28 One-day Internationals and five Twenty20s, said the time had come to hang up his gloves as he looks forward to spending more time with his family.

“It’s been a huge honour to represent New Zealand and in particular wear the Test baggy,” Watling said in a statement. “Test cricket really is the pinnacle of the game and I’ve loved every minute of being out there in the whites with the boys.

“I’ve played with some great players and made many good mates. I’ve also had plenty of help along the way for which I’ll always be grateful.

“Although I’ve had to make this announcement ahead of the tour to England, my focus is very much on the three Tests ahead and preparing to perform in them.” With the bat, Watling has scored 3773 runs in 73 Tests at 38.11 with eight hundreds and 19 half-centuries, with his highest score of a match-winning 205 coming against England at Mt Maunganui in 2019.

New Zealand coach Gary Stead paid tribute to Watling’s grit and determination that helped him forge a career as one of the country’s finest glovemen.

“The records speak for themselves and he’s been such a crucial cog in the Test team’s rise over the past decade,” Stead said.

“The attitude and fight he brings to every day and every session of a Test is what has made him such a valued member of the Black Caps.”



La Liga: Real Madrid strike late but title hopes hit by Sevilla draw

La Liga: Real Madrid strike late but title hopes hit by Sevilla draw

Dubai: Eden Hazard’s 94th-minute equaliser salvaged Real Madrid a dramatic 2-2 draw against Sevilla on Sunday as an extraordinary penalty decision swung La Liga’s title race back in Atletico Madrid’s favour.

Zinedine Zidane’s side had levelled through Marco Asensio midway through the second half and thought they had a penalty when Karim Benzema was brought down after rounding Sevilla goalkeeper Yassine Bono.

But VAR prompted referee Juan Martinez Munuera to check an Eder Militao handball a few seconds before, with a huge decision seeing Madrid’s penalty cancelled and a spot-kick awarded to Sevilla instead.

Ivan Rakitic converted and while Madrid still managed to hit back in injury time, Toni Kroos’ shot deflecting in off Eden Hazard’s foot, the draw hands the advantage back to Atletico at the end of another dramatic weekend in the Spanish title race.

“They have to explain the exact rules of the hands to me,” said Zidane afterwards. “But now we have to think about the next game. It is not up to us now, but we will fight to the end, to the death.”

After Barcelona and Atletico played out a goalless draw on Saturday at Camp Nou, the second instalment of La Liga’s blockbuster weekend also finished honours even, meaning the situation at the top is unchanged with three games now remaining.

Atletico are two points clear of both Real Madrid and Barcelona, with the title very much back in their hands.

A Sevilla victory might have given them an outside chance but instead they remain six points back and are surely out of the running.

“We’re disappointed but we are not going to give up,” said Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui. “We are going to try to keep this dream going a little longer.”

With a superior head-to-head record over Barcelona, Real Madrid scraping a draw could also yet prove decisive, given they only have to overtake one team now instead of two.

“It’s a shame but we’re alive,” said Luka Modric. “We have seen that everyone is dropping points so you have to have faith.”

Hazard had to come off the Real bench after his controversial reaction to the Champions League defeat by Chelsea and while the equaliser was eventually credited to him, there was hardly a sense of redemption given how little the Belgian knew about it.

Sevilla had 75 per cent of the ball in the first 10 minutes but it felt like more, with Madrid chasing shadows and incapable of escaping their own half.

They scored with their first attack, Benzema rising above Jules Kounde to head in, only for the goal to be chalked off, with Alvaro Odriozola offside in the build-up.

Madrid looked jaded, the usually reliable Modric guilty of sloppy passes while Kroos and Casemiro struggled to affect the game.

Sevilla took the lead in the 22nd minute and it was brilliantly worked, a short free-kick down the right improving the angle before Rakitic’s cool header down gave Fernando Reges the chance. He dummied past the diving Casemiro before slotting in.

Asensio’s rapid response

Madrid emerged early after half-time. Vinicius Junior poked onto the outside of the post after a clever short corner before Modric departed for Asensio, who scored 65 seconds after coming on.

Sevilla’s Joan Jordan was caught in midfield and Benzema sped away. Asensio looked like he had overrun the ball but it was returned to him by Kroos and he swept first time into the net.

Madrid had the momentum and they thought they had a penalty before the pendulum swung one way and then the other in a matter of seconds.

Sevilla’s corner was cleared and Benzema was sent through one-on-one, rounding Bono and going down for what looked an obvious spot-kick.

Instead, Martinez was prompted to look at the monitor, where he saw Militao had dangled an arm onto the ball before Sevilla’s corner was cleared.

Both benches made their feelings clear while the voices from the stand in front of Martinez, most of them belonging to Madrid, insisted the ball had struck Militao’s back.

But Martinez cancelled Madrid’s penalty and awarded one to Sevilla instead, with Rakitic stepping up and slotting into the corner.

Hazard came on and the drama was not yet finished. Kroos ghosted forward in the 94th minute and fired off a shot that deflected off the Hazard’s foot and in.

Madrid still had two minutes to find a winner and they almost got it, Casemiro’s effort curling agonisingly wide.