Real Madrid clash with Al-Hilal …in Club World Cup fina

Real Madrid has secured its spot in the final of the Club World Cup courtesy of a 4-1 victory over Egyp­tian outfit, Al Ahly, on Wednesday night.

Vinicius Junior and Federico Valverde scored either side of the half-time break to send Real Madrid two goals ahead, before Ali Maaloul’s 65th-minute penalty set up a potential grandstand finish.

Luka Modric missed a late penalty for Los Blancos, but the Spanish and European champions scored a third and fourth in sec­ond-half stop­page time through Rodrygo and Sergio Arribas.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side will take on Al-Hilal in the showpiece event on Saturday, with the Saudi Arabian outfit recording a 3-2 win over Flamengo in the competition’s first semi-fi­nal.

Los Blancos is the most success­ful side in the history of this tour­nament, having lifted the trophy on four occasions, with its last tri­umph coming back in 2018.

Real Madrid’s first half-chance of the match came from Rodrygo in the 17th minute, but the Brazil international’s effort was blocked behind for a corner, with Al Ahly taking up a strong defensive shape.

The Saudi Arabian side had two opportunities of their own in the 19th and 26th min­ute, but Mohamed Sher­if fired over the crossbar from a de­cent area before Mo­hamed Abdelmo­nem headed high of AndriyLunin’s goal in the team’s next chance in the last-four encounter.

Real Madrid’s first serious op­portunity of the night came in the 28th minute, with Rodrygo finding Vinicius in a dangerous area, but the left-sided forward dragged his effort wide of the post.

Rodrygo then fired wide of the Al Ahly post in the 30th minute before Hussein El Shahat forced a smart save from Lunin, who start­ed for the second successive match due to Thibaut Courtois’s absence.

Real Madrid managed to make the breakthrough in the closing stages of the first period, with Vi­nicius making the most of a poor mistake from Mahmoud Metwaly before racing into the Al Ahly box and lifting the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper, Mohamed El-Shenawy.

Los Blancos then doubled its lead early in the second period through Valverde, who showed composure to finish from close range after Rodrygo had been de­nied by the Al Ahly goalkeeper.

Real Madrid had a shout for a penalty just before the hour when Vinicius tumbled inside the box, but Al Ahly ultimately survived what was another dangerous moment.

The Egyptian outfit then managed to halve the deficit in the 65th minute, with Maaloul scoring from the penalty spot after Eduardo Camavinga had brought El Shahat to the ground.

Al Ahly then had a golden chance to level in the 68th minute when El Shahat found Afsha, but the attacker fired over the crossbar from inside the box, before Lunin did well to keep out an attempt from Taher Mohamed 10 minutes later.

Modric missed an 87th-min­ute penalty for Los Blancos after Vinicius had been brought to the ground, but the La Liga out­fit managed to score a third in stoppage time through Rodrygo, who picked out the far corner after impressively combining with Dani Ceballos.

Arribas then came off the bench to register his first goal for the club in the eighth additional min­ute, with the 21-year-old finding the bottom corner with a smart effort to add gloss to the scoreline.

Real Madrid will now be assess­ing the fitness of Karim Benzema, Courtois and Eder Militao, with Ancelotti claiming during his pre-match press conference that the trio could fly out for tomorrow’s final. —Reuters

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