Real sur­vive scare to win club cup with Ron­aldo tre­ble

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Cris­tiano Ron­aldo smashed a hat-trick as Real Madrid sur­vived a colos­sal scare to beat Ja­pan’s Kashima Antlers 4-2 and lift the Club World Cup yes­ter­day. A Gaku Shibasaki dou­ble briefly threat­ened one of foot­ball’s great­est ever shocks af­ter Karim Ben­zema had given Real the early ad­van­tage in Yoko­hama. But Ron­aldo equalised from the penalty spot be­fore pounc­ing twice in ex­tra time to give the Span­ish gi­ants their sec­ond world ti­tle in three years, and fifth in to­tal.

“Bloody hell, what a game!” said a breath­less Ron­aldo. “We had to suf­fer, but that’s what fi­nals are all about. “Peo­ple al­ways ex­pect more of Cris­tiano,” he added, speak­ing of him­self in the third per­son.

“It has been an un­for­get­table year-win­ning the Cham­pi­ons League, the Su­per Cup and the Eu­ros with Por­tu­gal. “And to score three more goals and to have such a per­fect end to this dream year, it’s in­cred­i­ble.”

The vic­tory ex­tended Real’s club record un­beaten run to 37 matches in all com­pe­ti­tions, while French coach Zine­dine Zi­dane sur­passed Fabio Capello’s record for their best start to a sea­son.

But the Euro­pean cham­pi­ons, yet to be de­feated in 26 games this cam­paign, were forced to dig deep by an Antlers side who fin­ished third in the J-League be­fore win­ning the cham­pi­onship fi­nal.

Ben­zema’s toe-poked opener was can­celled out on the stroke of half­time by Shibasaki, who took ad­van­tage of some calami­tous de­fend­ing from Raphael Varane to lash in a sharp vol­ley. The Ja­pan mid­fielder sparked wild cel­e­bra­tions among a crowd of 68,000 seven min­utes af­ter the break when he smashed home a left-foot shot from long dis­tance.

CLIN­I­CAL FIN­ISH

Kashima’s lead was short-lived, how­ever, as Ron­aldo lev­elled from the spot af­ter Lu­cas Vazquez was bun­dled over by Shuto Ya­mamoto.

Ron­aldo, who scooped his fourth Bal­lon d’Or last week, put Real back in front with a clin­i­cal fin­ish eight min­utes into ex­tra time af­ter a clever pass from Ben­zema.

And the Por­tuguese su­per­star com­pleted his hat­trick-the first in a Club World Cup fi­nal-six min­utes later with an­other poacher’s strike to break Ja­panese hearts.

“The stats don’t lie,” said Ron­aldo, who was also voted player of the tour­na­ment.

“I’ve had a spec­tac­u­lar sea­son. Peo­ple of­ten crit­i­cise me but I’m used to it. I just carry on work­ing on the pitch and get on with my job of win­ning ti­tles.” Euro­pean teams have now won the Club World Cup nine out of the last 10 years. But Real rode their luck at times in a pul­sat­ing fi­nal, not least when Zam­bian ref­eree Janny Sikazwe chose not to show cap­tain Ser­gio Ramos a sec­ond yel­low card late on for what ap­peared a cyn­i­cal block.

“The ref­eree lacked courage, which was re­gret­table,” said Kashima coach Masa­tada Ishii. “My play­ers were brave, their at­ti­tude was great and I feel we have grown as a club through this tour­na­ment.”

Zi­dane, who won club world ti­tles as a player with Real in 2002 and Ju­ven­tus in 1996, paid trib­ute to his play­ers. “Kashima sur­prised us a lit­tle with their speed and phys­i­cal­ity,” he said. “But when we have strug­gled this sea­son we have al­ways be­lieved in our­selves and found a way to win.”

YOKO­HAMA: Real Madrid’s play­ers pose af­ter they won the Club World Cup foot­ball fi­nal match be­tween Kashima Antlers of Ja­pan and Real Madrid of Spain at Yoko­hama In­ter­na­tional sta­dium in Yoko­hama yes­ter­day.

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