Thanks ref… or not! Qarabag player tries to high-five English referee Anthony Taylor after he thought VAR was rescinding his yellow card – only for him to pull out a red card, sending him off moments later!
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Thanks ref… or not! Qarabag player tries to high-five English referee Anthony Taylor after he thought VAR was rescinding his yellow card – only for him to pull out a red card, sending him off moments later!

Mar 19, 2024
  • Bayer Leverkusen came back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 on Thursday night  
  • The German side scored twice in added time to seal a 5-4 aggregate victory 
  • I fancy Man United on Sunday… something has to give for Jurgen’s juggernaut – It’s All Kicking off podcast 

A Qarabag player was left red-faced on Thursday night after a bizarre but of double jeopardy saw him sent off and left hanging in the space of a few seconds after trying to high-five referee Anthony Taylor. 

The Azerbaijani giants took on Bayer Leverkusen, the unbeaten surprise package of the season in Europe, in the hopes of securing what would be a historic place in the Europa League quarter-finals. 

Qarabag had taken a surprise lead on the road in Leverkusen, and looked set to challenge the German side’s proud invincible bid for 2023-24, only for Elvin Cafarguliyev to leave his side a man down in hilarious fashion. 

Cafarguliyev was shown a yellow for a last man challenge on Jeremie Frimpong just outside the box, but the decision was sent upstairs for a VAR review. 

The review was completed, and referee Taylor took out the card he had shown Cafarguliyev and gave the signal to show it had been scrubbed off, which had the player in a celebratory mood as he put his hand out for a high five with the official. 

Qarabag star Elvin Cafarguliyev hilariously went for a high-five with Anthony Taylor after thinking his yellow card had been rescinded

Qarabag star Elvin Cafarguliyev hilariously went for a high-five with Anthony Taylor after thinking his yellow card had been rescinded

However the left back hadn't realised that his booking was being upgraded to a red card

However the left back hadn’t realised that his booking was being upgraded to a red card

The player was giving his marching orders with his side battling for a shocking win on the night

The player was giving his marching orders with his side battling for a shocking win on the night

However, with almost unimpeachable comedic timing, a straight-faced Taylor proceeded to bring out a red card, as the challenge had in fact been upgraded to a sending off offence, all while staring Cafarguliyev straight in the eye. 

A skin-crawlingly awkward clip of the exchange put out by TNT Sport did the rounds of social media, which also catches the player’s look of half regret, half disappointment as he’s given his marching orders.

With Qarabag massive underdogs for the game, it will come as a surprise that they then scored again just three minutes after losing a man to make it 2-4 on aggregate and seemingly put one foot in the next round. 

But there aren’t many teams that have managed to keep Xabi Alonso’s Leverkusen quiet for long this term, and the German team showed just why they’re the talk of Europe this term. 

Frimpong then netted a composed volley from inside the box at the back post in the 72nd minute to make it 4-3 on aggregate and give the undefeated hosts a sniff. 

But there was nothing coming from the all-consuming Leverkusen by 90 minutes and the Azerbaijani outfit looked set for a truly remarkable result, before Czech international Patrik Schick dashed their dreams. 

The striker struck twice in added time; the feintest touch on a whipped cross at the near post in the 93rd minute made it 4-4, and then with six minutes and 50 seconds of the six added on the clock, he headed home at the back post to make it 5-4 on aggregate. 

It was a quite stunning comeback from a team that have won widespread plaudits, but desperately crushing for the visitors who were within an inch of one of their biggest nights in their history. 

Patrik Schick left it late to secure a stunning 3-2 win on the night (5-4 on aggregate) with two goals in added time

Patrik Schick left it late to secure a stunning 3-2 win on the night (5-4 on aggregate) with two goals in added time

Xabi Alonso's side maintained their impressive unbeaten record with the Spanish coach continuing to pick up widespread plaudits

Xabi Alonso’s side maintained their impressive unbeaten record with the Spanish coach continuing to pick up widespread plaudits

As such, Alonso has become one of the most highly-regarded – and sought-after – coaches on the continent. 

As a former Liverpool player he is thought to be being sized up to replace Jurgen Klopp when the German departs Anfield this summer, while he was also on the books at Bayern Munich who are looking for a head coach of their own. 

Then there’s Real Madrid – another of his former clubs – who will be in the market for a long-term successor to Carlo Ancelotti when he decides to leave the Spanish capital. 

That being said, after stunning most of Europe with his work at Leverkusen – who are set to beat serial winners Bayern to the German crown this term – he may decide to stay put and reap the rewards of the project he has really only just begun.  

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