Kashima Antlers

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Bale leads Real Madrid to Club World Cup final – Video

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For the third season running Real Madrid have reached the final of the FIFA Club World Cup.

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The reigning European champions have won the previous two tournaments (and three of the last four) and Gareth Bale scored an 11-minute hat trick to ease Real past the Kashima Antlers 3-1 on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi.

Real Madrid put aside their La Liga woes and were comfortable winners in the end, as Bale scored either side of half time and then sealed his hat trick with a splendid strike before the 60-minute mark. Kashima’s Shoma Doi grabbed a consolation late on as his strike was initially chalked off but VAR proved it was a legitimate goal.

They will play Abu Dhabi’s very own Al Ain in the final on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. ET, which you can watch by clicking on the link above, as a win would mean they become the first team in tournament history to win four titles. A victory in the final would mark the fourth time in the last five years Real have been crowned as the best club team on the planet.

Santiago Solari’s men piled on the pressure late in the first half after a slow start, as Bale scuffed an effort as he looked set to volley home with several Kashima defenders swarming around him.

Karim Benzema was causing plenty of problems in the final third, Toni Kroos had a shot from distance saved rather easily and then Sergio Ramos headed a free kick wide.

Right on half time Bale scored the opener for Real as he played a brilliant one-two with Marcelo and slotted home into the far corner off the post.

Early in the second half Bale cut the ball back and it found Benzema but his shot was cleared off the line by Shuto as Kashima battened down the hatches.

At the other end Daigo caused Luka Modric a few problems as he faced his own goal, but a foul was given against Kashima at the pivotal moment.

Soon after a poor back pass allowed Bale to sneak in and he tucked home his and Real’s second goal of the game.

And moments later Bale had his and Real’s third, as the Welshman sealed his hat trick with a stunning strike across goal and into the far corner.

The hat trick occurred in just 11 minutes either side of half time as Bale was subbed off after 60 minutes.

Solari’s men could have added more goals late on but a combination of poor finishing and resolute defending from Kashima meant Bale’s goals were enough.

Kashima then grabbed a late consolation as Doi’s tidy finish eventually counted after VAR intervened to stop it being incorrectly overturned.

But Bale stole the show as Real booked their place in Saturday’s Club World Cup final with minimum fuss as they aim to win their third-straight title.

WATCH LIVE: Kashima Antlers v. Real Madrid

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The second 2018 Club World Cup semifinal takes place Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, as Real Madrid face Japanese giants Kashima Antlers at 11:30 a.m. ET.

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Whoever prevails will play UAE side Al Ain in the final, as they stunned South American giants River Plate on penalty kicks on Tuesday.

Real have won the Club World Cup two times on the trot, with the reigning European champs heavily favored to take care of business once again despite all of their problems in the post Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane era.

Click on the link above to watch them face Kashima, who they beat in extra time in the final in 2016.

The final takes place at 11:30 a.m. ET on Saturday.

Cristiano Ronaldo strikes in extra time as Real Madrid wins Club World Cup

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It wasn’t nearly as easy as expected, but a hat-trick from Real Madrid’s main man sent them home with the Club World Cup title as the Spanish giants took down a very competitive Kashima Antlers 4-2 in extra time.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s 98th minute winner put them through in a game they trailed for a period in the second half thanks to a brace from Gaku Shibasaki.

Real Madrid took an early lead as Benzema struck in just past eight minutes in, and it seemed the game would progress as expected. Luka Modric volleyed a shot from the top of the box that was parried by Antlers goalkeeper Hitoshi Sogahata, but the rebound fell right into the path of Benzema who tapped home easily for the lead.

But the J-League champions would not lay down and die, and they kept things there nearly to halftime, when they drew level a minute before the break. A cross into the box found midfielder Shibasaki all alone in the box, and while he took a heavy touch off his chest that nearly lost him the chance, it appeared the poor touch also caught the defense off guard, and he was allowed to recover and fire home from close range to level things up.

Antlers would then stunningly take the lead in the second half through Shibasaki again. The 24-year-old impressively skipped past a pocket of four Madrid defenders, touching to his left to work some space, and seeing Keylor Navas poorly positioned, he rifled one into the bottom left corner to go 2-1 up.

Cristiano Ronaldo was frustrated for much of the second half, but he would bring Madrid back level right on the hour mark via the penalty spot. Shuto Yamamoto and Shibasaki combined to bring down Lucas Vasquez in the box, and the referee pointed to the spot, allowing Ronaldo and Madrid a way through.

There was a controversial moment near the end of regulation as the referee whistled for a foul on Sergio Ramos, and while it appeared initially the referee would caution Ramos – who was already on a yellow – after a long time with his hand on his pocket, he opted against the decision and allowed Ramos to stay on the pitch.

With the game moving to extra time, Ronaldo found his moment. A beautiful pass from Karim Benzema threaded him through in the box, and all it needed was a clinical finish for the winner. Antlers wouldn’t go down without a fight, as substitute Yuma Suzuki struck the crossbar with a booming set-piece header minutes after Ronaldo’s goal, but it wasn’t to be for the underdogs.

Ronaldo put the game away with his hat-trick goal in the 105th minute as a long shot from Toni Kroos didn’t make it to net, but the block rebound fell into the path of Ronaldo who slammed it home for a 4-2 lead. The win is Real Madrid’s 37th match in a row without defeat across all competitions.

Kashima defenders: Real Madrid better “beware of crocodiles”

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Kashima Antlers are at home for the FIFA Club World Cup final against Real Madrid, where the

Yokohama Stadium is about a two-hour drive from Kashima’s home base, a bit closer to home than Spain. But Real is still the heavy favorites to keep the CWC in Spain for a third-successive season.

[ MORE: U.S. GK on trial at Everton ]

Don’t sleep on the Antlers, though. The squad is fired up for the chance to make history, and the words of 22-year-old defender Naomichi Ueda work for us. From the BBC:

“I’m a crocodile. … Just as a crocodile will complete its conquest by dragging its prey into the water, I just want to bring them down – whether it’s in the air or on the ground, one on one.”

Now if crocodiles had antlers… well, that’s a futuristic sight I’d be happy to see. Kickoff on Sunday is at 5:30 a.m. EDT.

Follow @NicholasMendola

Club World Cup: Kashima Antlers reach final; Jeonbuk takes fifth

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One half of this year’s FIFA Club World Cup final was determined on Wednesday, while history was made during the match.

[ MORE: Video assistant replay decision used for first time in competition ]

The Kashima Antlers punched their ticket to the competition’s finale after defeating South American side Atletico Nacional, 3-0.

With the victory, the Japanese club will either face Real Madrid or Club America in the tournament final on Sunday.

Kashima took the lead in the 33rd minute after a historic moment occurred when a video assistant referee (VAR) decision was used to determine a penalty kick. Shouma Doi converted the ensuing spot kick, before Yasushi Endoh and Yuma Suzuki tacked on insurance for the team playing on home soil.


Meanwhile, Jeonbuk captured fifth place in the tournament after a convincing 4-1 win over South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns saw the South Korean club take home the honors.

A trio of first-half finishes gave Jeonbuk a decisive advantage before the halftime, while a late tally from Kim Shin-Wook ensured the victory would go the side’s way.

Mamelodi pulled a goal back through Percy Tau three minutes into the second stanza, but any potential comeback attempt was halted by Shin-Wook’s late strike.