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.
Chen Jifang hits the gym for at least two hours every day and has the physique to prove it. At nearly 70, she is being held up as a shining example as China orders its vast population to get fit and lose the bulge. The grandmother from Shanghai has become a minor celebrity in in the past few months after her newfound and unlikely love for working out made national headlines. After becoming a gym regular in December 2018, Chen lost 14kg in three months, and now sports the kind of flat stomach and toned muscles that people decades younger aspire to. She
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
ANOTHER SCANDAL: Searches focused on several riders, including Dayer Quintana, a source said, while the two being held were reportedly a doctor and physiotherapist French police on Monday detained two people as part of an investigation into suspected doping in the Arkea-Samsic team at this year’s Tour de France, prosecutors announced. The probe is the first significant one in several years for the repeatedly scandal-hit tour, which on Sunday wrapped up in Paris with a victory for 21-year-old Tadej Pogacar, who became the youngest winner in more than a century. Prosecutor Dominique Laurens in Marseille said in a statement that an investigation was being carried out into a “small part” of France-based Arkea-Samsic, without specifying who had been placed in custody. Laurens added that the two
Former MLB pitcher Wang Wei-chung has signed the biggest contract with a local team in Taiwan’s professional baseball history, the Wei Chuan Dragons said yesterday. The 28-year-old left-hander signed a five-year US$2.08 million contract with the Dragons, team chairman Hsu Wen-fang told a news conference. It is the biggest contract in the CPBL’s 31-year history, surpassing a three-year, US$1.36 million deal Lin Chih-sheng signed in 2016 with the CTBC Brothers. Although the overall value of Wang’s deal set a new record, his average monthly salary of NT$990,000 (US$33,886) is lower than Lin’s pay of NT$1.2 million per month in 2017