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Immediate Reaction: Al Jazira 1 - 2 Real Madrid, Club World Championships 2017

A wild and eventful game in Abu Dhabi which Gareth Bale eventually ices. Real Madrid are through to the Club World Cup final.

Al Jazira v Real Madrid CF - FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017 Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images

On December 13th, 2017, a new Avenger manifested himself to the earth. Ali Khaseif Humad Khaseif Housani, a seemingly fictional character created by Stan Lee, put his infinity gloves on, and entered ZSC Stadium with one clear mission: Do not let Real Madrid score.

He fulfilled his objective for every minute he was on the field, and saved clear-cut chance after clear-cut chance. Al Jazira didn’t defend particularly well — they completely abandoned passing lanes leading to through-balls to Benzema and Ronaldo, and generally their central defenders did not mark well. The fact that Real Madrid didn’t blow this game open with five or six goals in the first half came down to Khaseif. He allowed the ball to cross his goal-line twice only — and neither of those goals counted. One of them was deemed a foul, and the other, he used his infinity gloves to possess the minds of the referee crew in making one of the most embarrassing sequences of refereeing we’ve seen this season — eventually cancelling a goal that should’ve clearly counted.

Towards the end of the first half, after missing all their chances, and having two goals disallowed, Real Madrid suffered a counter-attack which Al Jazira opened the scoring from. This was somehow foreshadowed. It hadn’t been the first time Zidane’s men suffered in transition defensively. They didn’t show much respect for Al Jazira’s counter-attacking ability — hedging forward heavily with multiple players flooding the final third without proper coverage. A team with Kovacic, Casemiro, and Modric really shouldn’t be suffering defensively so much. These are preventable, positional miscues. It was apparent that after the second half started, Real Madrid didn’t learn from this, and nearly conceded a second, when their defense in transition completely collapsed, and Al Jazira’s goal on the breakaway was ruled out for offside.

In the second half, Khaseif, who showed signs of discomfort with an injury in the first half, was taken off. Almost immediately after, Real Madrid scored the equalizer:

Zidane’s men continued to knock on the door throughout the half, but it wasn’t until Gareth Bale came on that Real Madrid were able to finally put themselves clear (sounds familiar, no?):

As always, this reaction is just the bare bones. More post-game coverage coming your way in the next few hours.

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