Thu, Dec 18, 2014 - Page 20 News List

Real cruise to Club World Cup final

FULL STRENGTH:The European champions should have James Rodriguez back when they take on either Auckland City or Atletico San Lorenzo de Almagro in Saturday’s final

AFP, MARRAKESH, Morocco

Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos, top right, scores against Cruz Azul in their FIFA Club World Cup semi-final in Marrakesh, Morocco, on Tuesday.

Photo: AFP

European champions Real Madrid crushed Cruz Azul 4-0 to cruise into the FIFA Club World Cup final on Tuesday, totally outclassing their Mexican rivals.

Goals from Sergio Ramos, Karim Benzema, Garreth Bale and Isco saw Madrid record a 21st consecutive win in the semi-final at a packed and noisy Grand Stade de Marrakesh, scene of last year’s final where Bayern Munich beat Raja Club Athletic of Casablanca 2-0.

“This team deserves to win the world title,” Real Madrid’s Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti said after the easy and impressive win.

Iker Casillas did have to face a penalty in the 40th minute after Ramos was harshly judged to have pushed Cruz’s Argentine striker Mariano Pavone, but the veteran Spanish goalkeeper was equal to Gerardo Torrado’s weak spot-kick.

With FIFA and UEFA presidents Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini in the crowd, Ramos proved in the 15th minute what a lethal header of the ball he is, taking advantage of a mistimed run by goalkeeper Jose Corona to open Madrid’s account from a trademark Toni Kroos cross.

French centerforward Benzema showed his astonishing speed in the 36th minute to pounce on Daniel Carvajal’s cross before the defense had even flinched to make it 2-0 after 36 minutes.

Cristiano Ronaldo provided the ammunition for the next two. Weaving unchallenged down the left wing, Ronaldo provided a perfect delivery that Bale nodded home totally unmarked in the 50th minute.

The Portuguese icon, who was cheered every time he got the ball, then teed up the impressive Isco, who weaved past two defenders before unleashing a precise shot into the bottom corner in the 72nd minute.

World Player of the Year Ronaldo had come close to opening the scoring in the second minute and he also sent a couple of free-kicks fizzing narrowly wide, but the man who has scored 25 league goals in 15 games this season was unable to find the net.

Luis Fernando Tena’s North American champions had struggled to beat Western Sydney Wanderers to make the semis and rarely troubled Ancelotti’s almost full-strength side.

“We knew it was going to be hard and my players gave everything, but they were so much better than we were and the result reflects that fairly,” Tena said.

New Zealand’s Auckland City were due to take on South American champions Atletico San Lorenzo de Almagro of Argentina yesterday to see who will meet Madrid in the final on Saturday, when Real should also welcome back Colombia’s World Cup star James Rodriguez, who missed Tuesday’s game with a calf strain.

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