Well, it could’ve been a much bigger win for Real, but they’ll take the 2-1 win in Abu Dhabi. Fortuitously, they found themselves in the winning column of the semi-finals and will move on to the Club World Cup Final.
The first half, without question, was all Real. Even though nothing went their way in terms of goals, they still had all the possession and all the chances in the world to do so. Ronaldo alone had about four chances that were all stopped by Al Jazira’s Ali Khaseif, who was doing a wonderful impression of prime Iker Casillas in the first half.
Despite countless shots, chances, and corners, Real could get nothing past Khaseif. It didn’t help that multiple calls went against Real when it came to actually putting the ball in Al Jazira’s net. The first, was Isco’s great cross to the head of Benzema which went past Ali Khasif. It was immediately waved off by the referee, as he determined that Ronaldo had pushed down a defender prior to the goal. While this was certainly debatable, this wasn’t the worst Real would see go against them.
Isco sent another great cross, this time Casemiro’s way, which was headed into the back of the net. It appeared that Casemiro may have not even touched the ball, it could’ve been an own goal by Al Jazira. Either way it did not matter, the referee would call it back. Then it was called a goal. Then the ref decided to consult VAR and determined it was actually not a goal again because Benzema was offside. While he was offside, Benzema didn’t even touch the ball and had no actual role in the play; and it probably should have counted. While I think VAR will be necessary in the near future, it still has ways to go when dealing with human error on behalf of the referee.
While the possession and chances pretty much all belonged to Real in the first half, they struggled defending Al Jazira’s counterattacks in those rare breaks. And, almost predictably with all the possession and no outcome, Al Jazira would put it past Keylor Navas in the 42nd minute — a goal scored by Romarinho. Poor defending and misplay from Achraf Hakimi on the right side and an easy goal let in by Navas found Real down 1-0 before the half. Despite all the possession and pressure, it was Real who found themselves playing keep-up now.
Just three minutes into the new half, Al Jazira thought they had scored another one. Once again consulting VAR, the referee ruled this time that Al Jazira was offside and the goal would not count. Another blow to Al Jazira, as first half hero Ali Khasif had to be subbed off due to injury. He suffered a scare earlier in the first half, but this time it was the real thing. Just minutes later, Real cashed in on these two critical moments with a brilliant goal from Ronaldo.
Ronaldo went like "Enough is enough with the memes. Now I will score a goal u can't deny." pic.twitter.com/FagvImRXWc— × RIZIA × (@RMadrid_addict) December 13, 2017
A beautiful through ball from Modric found Ronaldo putting the ball into Al Jazira’s net. This goal would make Cristiano the all-time goal scorer in the Club World Cup — another milestone he can add under his belt.
With the match all level now, Real would continue piling on the pressure and having complete control over possession. Again, they allowed Al Jazira to take advantage of the poor transition defense a few times. Benzema also had some great chances that ultimately ended up hitting the post twice.
With Benzema unable to find his finishing touch, he was subbed out for the returning (again) Gareth Bale. Immediately making his presence felt, Bale put Real on top for the first time in the semi-final.
A goal that looked like Ronaldo got a touch on it at first glance was ruled a goal for Gareth Bale. Coming just a minute after Bale came on for Benzema, it was indeed a huge welcome back for the Welshman. He also had a scissor-kick chance that was saved. Thankfully, Bale appears fit and ready to start making La Liga appearances again.
While this wasn’t an ideal win for Real, they could’ve been up 10-1 with all the chances and shots they had. What matters most is they are moving on to the Club World Cup Final. The Final takes place on Saturday against Brazilian club Gremio.