Five years ago to the day — December 18th, 2016 — Real Madrid lifted its fifth Club World Cup title, as they beat Kashima Antlers 4 - 2 in extra time at Yokohama International Stadium in Japan.
Then coach Zinedine Zidane rolled out his classic 4-3-3, with Lucas Vazquez starting on the right wing over the injured Gareth Bale.
Real Madrid: Keylor Navas, Carvajal, Ramos (Nacho, 108 ‘), Varane, Marcelo, Modric (Kovacic, 106’), Casemiro, Kroos, Lucas Vázquez (Isco, 81 ‘), Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo ( Morata, 112 ‘).
After Karim Benzema opened the scoring for Real Madrid in the ninth minute, Kashima scored two goals, and led 2 - 1 early in the second half.
Then the Cristiano Ronaldo show started. The Portuguese icon converted a penalty in the 60th minute, and then in extra time, Ronaldo added two more to his tally — in the 97th and 104th minute — to make it 4 - 2.
From the archives, Lucas Navarrete’s immediate reaction for Managing Madrid that night:
Real Madrid did not take the game very seriously. As soon as Benzema scored the opening goal early in the game, Los Blancos relaxed and let Kashima have the ball and some scoring chances. Madrid are the better team —although they did not play like it— and the players knew that, but this wasn’t a friendly match and Zidane’s men should’ve kept their composure and energy.
Vazquez provided a good performance. The winger has been Bale’s undisputed replacement ever since the Welsh star got injured but his overall performances were not good enough to take minutes away from players like Isco, James or even Asensio. Today, he played much better offensively, creating chances for his teammates.
Benzema was Real Madrid’s MVP. I lost count of how many potential assists Karim Benzema delivered today. He scored the opening goal and passed Vazquez in what ended up being the play which allowed Madrid to score the equalizer. Of course, he also assisted Ronaldo on Real’s third goal. There will be haters.
Zidane’s subtitution cost Los Blancos late in regulation. The French coach took Vazquez out and entered Isco and Madrid lost all their energy all of a sudden. They were lucky not to concede a late goal which would’ve ended the Final. Zidane decided to go with a three-man defensive line inserting Casemiro between Ramos and Varane and it didn’t work for his team.
All Madrid needed was 10 good minutes of football. Ronaldo put the nail in Kashima’s coffin as soon as Real decided to stop fooling around. The Portuguese star wasn’t brilliant in this game and yet he scored a hat-trick. World champions.