UAE’s Al Jazira lead Madrid into the second half in their bid to make the Club World Cup final

Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale scores their second goal (Reuters/Matthew Childs)
Updated 14 December 2017
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UAE’s Al Jazira lead Madrid into the second half in their bid to make the Club World Cup final

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates: Gareth Bale needed less than a minute to help Real Madrid reach the Club World Cup final after his team faced a potential shock elimination from the tournament.
Bale scored with his first touch after coming on as a substitute in the 81st minute as Real Madrid came from behind to beat Emirates club Al Jazira 2-1 in Wednesday’s semifinal.
Madrid will try to win its third world title in four seasons when its faces South American champion Gremio of Brazil on Saturday.
The match had two goals disallowed by video review, one for each team. There was confusion when Madrid’s first-half goal was ruled out by a decision that took a few minutes before the Video Assistant Referee became involved.
Madrid struggled early and allowed the local league winners to open the scoring with a goal by Brazilian forward Romarinho just before halftime.
But Cristiano Ronaldo equalized early in the second half and Bale netted the winner less than a minute after replacing Karim Benzema.
The Wales forward, coming off a series of injuries, scored with a low left-foot touch from the center of the area after a pass by forward Lucas Vazquez, who had also come off the bench.
“It was great to be able to score, but the most important thing was the victory,” said Bale, adding that he’s still not at 100 percent. “It’s been a long wait, I’ve had to be patient.”
He has played only 11 matches with Madrid this season because of lingering muscle problems.
“Bale is all about scoring goals,” Madrid defender Nacho Fernandez said. “He is a fantastic player. He scored a goal that means a lot to us. It’s a shame that he has been injured, because he is very important for the team.”
European clubs have made it to the Club World Cup final every time since the competition’s new format started in 2005, winning nine out of the last 10 titles.
Madrid, which fielded its top players, was in control from the start but made a series of mistakes in front of goal and couldn’t capitalize on its numerous chances. Al Jazira goalkeeper Ali Khaseif made several difficult saves before being substituted with an apparent injury early in the second half.
Madrid appeared to have opened the scoring with a header by midfielder Casemiro in the 30th minute. Brazilian referee Sandro Meira Ricci initially disallowed the goal, then said it counted and carried the ball back toward the center circle for the restart, only to eventually rule it out again after requesting a video review. He signaled that his final decision, made nearly three minutes after the goal, was based on Benzema being offside.
“The issue of video review is not something that is up to me to decide, but I think football is better off without it,” Bale said.
Madrid had already seen a goal by Benzema disallowed about 10 minutes earlier, after the referee signaled a foul by Ronaldo on a defender.
The hosts took advantage of Madrid’s early struggles and opened the scoring in a counterattack just before halftime. Madrid defenders were unable to clear a ball near midfield, and allowed Romarinho to enter the area and send a low shot into the far corner.
The UAE team had the chance to take a shock 2-0 lead early in the second half after another mistake by Madrid’s defense, which allowed two Al Jazira players to break into the area with only goalkeeper Keylor Navas to beat. Mbark Boussoufa scored, but a video review later showed that he was just offside when he received the pass from his teammate.
Madrid began to rally a few minutes later, with Ronaldo controlling a pass from Luka Modric inside the area before sending a low shot into the far corner for his sixth goal in the Club World Cup, surpassing Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, who each have five.
Benzema had twice hit the post as Madrid pressed forward after conceding before halftime.


Ahmed Barman out to toast Al-Ain success in FIFA Club World Cup

Updated 11 December 2018
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Ahmed Barman out to toast Al-Ain success in FIFA Club World Cup

  • Tournament gets under way on Wednesday when Al-Ain take on Team Wellington at home.
  • UAE midfielder sure his side can cause a few shocks.

LONDON: While he is only too aware of the quality opposition they have to face, Al-Ain midfielder Ahmed Barman is backing “The Boss” to scare a few teams in the FIFA Club World Cup.
The tournament gets under way when the UAE outfit face Team Wellington on their home ground in the opener today. Last year saw fellow Arabian Gulf League side Al-Jazira reach the semifinal where they gave Real Madrid a huge fright before narrowly losing 2-1. And inspired by that march to the last four, Barman is looking for Al-Ain to go one better and become the first Emirati side to make the final.
“The FIFA Club World Cup is a global competition coveted by every club,” Barman said. “Al-Ahli, Al-Jazira and Al-Wahda participated in this tournament before and did their part, putting the UAE on the world map. We at Al-Ain hope to reach the semi-final, as Al-Jazira did, or do even better.”
Before any tournament it is only natural to dream of glory and lifting the trophy in front of adoring fans. But the midfielder is not getting too cocky, revealing that despite having home advantage Al-Ain are taking absolutely nothing for granted, starting with Wednesday’s clash against the Kiwis.
“There’s no doubt that we’re aiming to reach the final and face a giant like Real Madrid, but first we have to focus on our opening match against Team Wellington,” the 24-year-old said.
“We need to win to progress from this round and play the subsequent games until we reach the final against Real Madrid and show a standard of play the UAE can be proud of.”
Barman is not anticipating an easy opener.
“Team Wellington are a very good team with considerable ability. They won their local league and the OFC Champions League, which proves they’re powerful.
“So, all our focus is on this opening match. We’re annualizing our opponents to understand their capabilities as we prepare to perform well on the pitch and get positive result.”
The UAE champions did not have the best preparation for their stab at Club World Cup glory, losing 5-2 to Al-Wasl in the UAE President’s Cup at the weekend.
That result, while clearly not ideal, has not bothered the side’s coach.
“We cannot win every game, what is gone is gone, it’s full concentration on the match ahead,” Zoran Mamic said.
“There are no rules that Al-Ain cannot lose games, that’s why I don’t make any drama.”
But while Barman was keen to invoke the memory of Al-Jazira’s march to the last four, his boss was less so, telling his team to focus on the match at hand before getting ahead of themselves.
“We are not here to talk about last year, just as we are not here to talk about the future,” the Croatian said. “We are here to represent the club in the best possible way. We focus on the match at hand and everything will take care of itself.”
Of today’s opponents he added: “We have watched all their games, we know their strengths and where they are not so strong. They are particularly good offensively, they play with fast wingers and a striker who is a good scorer, they play a system that is unusual to us because no teams in the Emirates play with three in the last line. If we do our job we will (have) a good match.”