Real Madrid defeated Atletico San Lorenzo de Almagro of Argentina 2-0 on Saturday to win the FIFA Club World Cup and secure their fourth trophy of the year.
The Spanish giants dominated the final, with Sergio Ramos — who had been an injury doubt because of a hamstring strain — and Gareth Bale getting on the scoresheet.
Real added the year-ending trophy to the UEFA Champions League, Copa del Rey and European Super Cup titles they had already secured this year, which they will also end on top of La Liga.
Saturday’s triumph was also their 22nd consecutive win in all competitions and they now have in their sights the record of 26 straight wins achieved by Johan Cruyff’s Ajax in 1971-1972.
“We deserved to win the title — we can say that Real Madrid are the best team in the world,” Real coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “We have done really well this year, it’s been unforgettable. We are a team and a family.”
The Italian is already setting his sights on similar achievements next year, saying: “We’d be happy with a repeat. We’ll continue forward like this in all competitions and will face the new year with excitement and enthusiasm.”
Meanwhile, Bale tweeted: “Couldn’t think of a better Christmas present, FIFA World Club Champions 2014!! #HalaMadrid.”
Ramos opened the scoring after 37 minutes when he rose above the San Lorenzo defense to send a thumping header past goalkeeper Sebastian Torrico from a Toni Kroos corner.
Bale made it 2-0 six minutes into the second half when he collected a pass from Isco and fired the ball straight at Torrico.
However, the Argentine goalkeeper made a terrible hash of the Welshman’s tame shot and fumbled the ball over the line.
Real goalie Iker Casillas was relatively untroubled, called into serious action for the first time well after the hour mark to keep out an Emmanuel Mas drive.
At the other end, Karim Benzema went close to a third Real goal, but his touch went wide of the post.
Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo had a quiet night and failed to get on the end of a Benzema cross in the 80th minute.
In the last minute, San Lorenzo’s Juan Mercier unleashed a powerful, long-distance drive which was saved by a diving Casillas.
“Madrid won fairly, but for us it was an honor to have finished the year playing in the final of the [Club] World Cup. We are very proud, despite the grief of losing,” San Lorenzo coach Edgardo Bauza said.
“It’s been a wonderful year for the club and for the fans — we won the Copa Libertadores,” he added.
Earlier, New Zealand’s Auckland City claimed third place after defeating Mexico’s Cruz Azul 4-2 in a penalty shootout to become the first Oceania team to win a medal at the tournament.
The two sides were locked 1-1 at the end of regulation, with defender Ryan de Vries’ goal in first-half injury-time equalized by Joao Rojas’ close-range effort just before the hour mark for the Mexican side.
In the penalty shootout, Sanni Issa scored the eventual winner for the semi-professional side from Auckland.
The Kiwi club made the third-place playoff by beating Moroccan side Moghreb Tetouan 1-0 and seeing off African champions ES Setif of Algeria by the same score.
They narrowly missed out on a place in the final when they conceded an extra-time goal in a 2-1 loss to San Lorenzo.
“Half of my players are amateurs. We deserve to finish where we have because we’ve been brilliant from beginning to end,” Auckland coach Ramon Tribulietx said.
“I hope this performance will have a positive impact on football in New Zealand. No one expected us to come third and it’s a real honor,” he added.