Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos has rowed back on his suggestion he deliberately earned a yellow card against Ajax on Wednesday to ensure he would be banned for the second leg.
Madrid will carry a 2-1 advantage back to the Santiago Bernabeu but Ramos will miss the return, after being booked for a rash tackle on Kasper Dolberg, two minutes after Marco Asensio’s 87th-minute winner.
Three yellow cards brings a one-match suspension but Ramos may have seen sitting out the second match against Ajax as preferable to a punishment in the quarter-finals.
UEFA could add another match to his ban. Madrid defender Dani Carvajal was suspended for two games last season after intentionally earning a booking in the group stages.
“The truth is that given the result I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t something I had in mind,” Ramos had said after the game.
“It is not to underestimate the opponent but sometimes there is a time to make decisions and I have done so.”
Around an hour later, Ramos appeared to backtrack on Twitter. He wrote: “I want to make clear that it hurts me more than anyone, I have not forced the card, as I didn’t against Roma in my previous game in the Champions League.
“I will support from the stands as a fan more with the hope of playing in quarters.”
All yellow cards and pending suspensions expire after the quarter-finals and cannot be carried forward to the semis.
Ramos was making his 600th Madrid appearance as they needed VAR to cancel out Nicolas Tagliafico’s goal in the first half before Hakim Ziyech equalised following Karim Benzema’s opener.
Asensio, however, tapped in a late winner to give the defending champions victory and another precious away goal ahead of the second leg.