Auckland City

Real Madrid outclass San Lorenzo, win 2014 Club World Cup

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Four trophies in a calendar year is not a decent haul for any club in the world, even the mighty Real Madrid. Carlo Ancelotti‘s side lifted its fourth major trophy on Saturday as the UEFA Champions League winners knocked off 2014 Copa Libertadores winners San Lorenzo, 2-0, in the final of the 2014 FIFA Club World Cup.

Sergio Ramos opened the scoring for the Spanish giants with a powerful header in the 37th minute. Toni Kroos‘s corner kick service made its way to the top of the six-yard box where the Spaniard outleapt a pack of San Lorenzo defenders to put his head on the end of the dangerous ball.

[ RELATED: Agent insists Chicharito won’t leave Real Madrid before loan ends ]

Gareth Bale doubled Real’s lead six minutes after halftime when San Lorenzo goalkeeper Sebastian Alberto Torrico made a mess of the Welshman’s tame effort from 15 yards out. Isco slotted a through ball to put Bale behind the San Lorenzo defense. His left-footed shot didn’t look all that difficult for the ‘keeper to handle, but Torrico couldn’t get to ground quickly enough to smother the effort as the ball deflected off his body and into the back of the net.

Saturday’s triumph, the club’s 22nd-straight victory across all competitions, also marks the fourth trophy Los Merengues have won in 18 short months under Ancelotti, who took over for Jose Mourinho in June 2013. Real currently hold a one-point lead in La Liga (with a game in-hand), the only major trophy Ancelotti is yet to win with the club.

Oceania Champions League winners Auckland City (New Zealand) were victorious in the third-place game of the Club World Cup earlier on Saturday, outlasting Mexican powerhouse and CONCACAF Champions League winners Cruz Azul, 1-1 (4-2 on penalties). Ryan de Vries put Auckland City ahead just before halftime before Joao Rojas pulled Cruz Azul back onto level terms 12 minutes into the second half.

Club World Cup: Cruz Azul, Auckland City advance to face Real Madrid, San Lorenzo in semifinals

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A Mexican and New Zealand side moved one step closer to world domination the top of the club soccer mountain on Saturday as Mexican powerhouse Cruz Azul and New Zealand heavyweights Auckland City advanced to the semifinals of the 2014 Club World Cup, which is being played this week in two Moroccan host cities.

CONCACAF Champions League winners Cruz Azul defeated AFC Champions League winners Western Sydney Wanderers, 3-1 after extra time, on a heavily waterlogged playing surface at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat, to set up a date with reigning European champions Real Madrid on Tuesday (2:30 pm ET).

[ RELATED: James Rodriguez suffers calf injury with Club World Cup looming ]

La Maquina found themselves on the bring of elimination with just one minute of regular time to be played when 35-year-old Geraro Torrado stepped up to the penalty spot and equalized in the 89th minute. Argentine forward Mariano Pavone provided Cruz Azul with the game-winning goal, a rebound thumped into an empty net in the 108th minute. Torrado completes the scoring, from the spot again in the 118th minute.

Italian midfieler Iacopo La Rocca had put the Australian side up after 65 minutes with a low, powerful drive from 30 yards out.

Auckland City knocked off CAF Champions League winners, Algerian side ES Setif, and advanced to their quarterfinal date (Wednesday, 2:30 pm ET) with Copa Libertadores winners San Lorenzo by way of a John Irving goal in the 65th minute.

The third- (11:30 am ET) and first-place games (2:30 pm ET) will be played next Sunday.

FIFA Club World Cup starts with a golazo

Sanfrecce Hiroshima v Auckland City - FIFA Club World Cup: Play-Off for Quarter Final
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Right under your noses, the FIFA Club World Cup began today in Japan, with Sanfrecce Hiroshima‘s Toshihiro Aoyama making sure the tournament’s start was a good one.

What’s Japanese for golazo?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6syqkRDUD4k]

Sanfrecce went on to beat Auckland City (Oceania’s champions) 1-0 to advance to the quarterfinals … for those that care.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many around that do. I’m certainly not one to trumpet the need to make this tournament more important (<sarcasm>because if there’s one thing the world needs, it’s a few more important tournaments</sarcasm>), but if you ignore your internal pining to find competitive significance in everything from your grocery store line choice to an early hour soccer match in Hiroshima, this event can be a minor spectacle.

Teams who would never otherwise face each other meet with some loose cache to complement minor bragging rights, and every once in a while you get something like last year: Neymar meeting (and his Santos side getting thrashed by) Barcelona.

source: Getty ImagesThis year’s tournament carries slightly more intrigue since Chelsea, UEFA’s representative, isn’t that good. Where Europe’s champion is always considered a strong favorite, the Blues’ vulnerability opens the door for an upset, presumably from CONMEBOL’s representatives, Sao Paulo’s Corinthians (who qualified by winning Copa Libertadores for the first time in the club’s 112-year history).

Those two teams are passed into the semifinals, one round ahead of three teams capable of an upset (though perhaps not two). CONCACAF is represented by Monterrey, returning to the competition for a second straight season. They’re coming off a disappointing Apertura in Mexico. AFC (Asia) sends South Korea’s Ulsan Hyundai, who beat Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ahli to snare a spot, while Egypt’s Al-Alhy completed a remarkable rebound from February tragedy to claim CAF’s (Africa’s) spot.

After today’s opener, the competition takes a small break until Sunday when Sanfrecce faces Al-Alhy and Ulsan takes on Monterrey.

And one of the beautiful parts of this competition: Nobody knows who should win those games!