After defeating Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia 5-3 in the FIFA Club World Cup final on Saturday in Rabat, Morocco, Vinicius Junior and Federico Valverde both scored twice as Real Madrid won the tournament for a record-extending fifth time.
Victors of the European Champions League Vinicius and Valverde scored twice in the space of five minutes to give Madrid a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes of play against their Asian opponents.
But Moussa Marega’s goal for Al Hilal, the first Saudi Arabian team to reach the championship, gave the game new life.
With just over 30 minutes left, Madrid appeared to have secured the victory with two more quick-fire goals scored early in the second half by the recovered Karim Benzema and another by Uruguayan midfielder Valverde.
Instead, Al Hilal’s re-entry into the game thanks to a brace from former Atletico Madrid forward Luciano Vietto, either side of a second from Vinicius, is unlikely to excite Madrid manager Ancelotti.
Madrid had enough to hold on for an eventually well-deserved victory in a match that broke the record for the most combined goals in a Club World Cup Final. Al Hilal may have caused some serious late drama had Marega not made a poor attempt.
The Spanish powerhouses, who previously won three championships in four years between 2014 and 2018, have now triumphed in all five competition finals that they have participated in. With three victories, Barcelona is the next-most successful team in the FIFA competition, which started in 2000 and has been held yearly since 2005.
The trophy has now been won by European teams in the last 10 Club World Cups.
There were some errors at the defense, but there was a lot of quality up front, according to Ancelotti. “Karim, [Eder] Militao, and [Thibaut] Courtois, the players who were injured, are returning, and this trophy provides us a push to prepare for this season’s end, and we still have a lot of confidence.
“It’s been a good tournament for us, and with the growth we’ve seen in previous games, we’re excited to fight to the bitter finish in every minute, every game, and every competition for the rest of the season.”
A day after Carlo Ancelotti admitted it was touch-and-go if Benzema could play at all, his inclusion in Madrid’s starting lineup came as a small surprise. The winner of the Ballon d’Or missed Madrid’s last two contests, including Wednesday’s 4-1 semifinal victory over the Egyptian team Al Ahly.
The France striker put Vinicius clean to beat Abdullah Al-Mayouf in goal after exchanging passes with Valverde. Al-Mayouf got a leg to the shot but was unable to stop it from going into his net.
In the 18th minute, Valverde doubled the lead by smashing a shoddy clearance through the legs of a defender, who just slightly deflected it before it flew past Al-Mayouf.
Al Hilal, though, got their footing in the 26th minute after Marega caught Madrid’s backline trying to spring an offside trap after struggling to even connect three passes in the initial period. The backup goalkeeper for Madrid, Andriy Lunin, who started in place of the injured Thibaut Courtois, was unfazed as the former Porto striker dashed away.
Goal achieved. Up until Vinicius delivered an amazing pass that set up a goal by Benzema, Al Hilal and Madrid were stalled.
Vinicius met Benzema’s darting move by bending a cross around a defender with the outside edge of his right boot. In the 54th minute, Benzema completed the task by turning it into the top of the net with just one touch.
In the 58th, Valverde added his second.
With Madrid’s defense failing to keep tabs on the Argentine in the box, Vietto scored in the 63rd and 79th minutes, either side of Vinicius’ second goal.
Al Hilal lost the chance to attempt a last-ditch equalizer due to a late Marega error.