Real Madrid win third straight Club World Cup title with win over Al-Ain

Updated 22 December 2018
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Real Madrid win third straight Club World Cup title with win over Al-Ain

ABU DHABI: Real Madrid eased to a third straight Club World Cup title as Luka Modric and Sergio Ramos scored in a 4-1 final victory over home team Al-Ain in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

The European champions have struggled at times this season but had little trouble in brushing aside Al-Ain, whose surprise run to the final included a comeback from 3-0 down against Team Wellington and a shock last-four win over River Plate.

The Spanish giants have now won a record four Club World Cup titles, pulling one clear of arch rivals Barcelona, who were in La Liga action on Saturday.

Real boss Santiago Solari, who has had to deal with rumours surrounding his future after former Los Blancos coach Jose Mourinho's sacking by Manchester United earlier this week, named a strong side including Modric, Toni Kroos and Gareth Bale.

And he was in buoyant mood after the game.

"This title closes the season on a great note for us. To be able to win three Champions Leagues and Club World Cup is history in itself and it will be difficult to equal this.

"This tournament is very close to my heart, it is a wonderful tournament and I am leaving with a lot of happiness and satisfaction. The team is used to repeat success, I enjoy seeing how the players enjoying. The seriousness we put in this tournament and we played a great game tonight.

"We don’t have rest on our laurels. We have to realise that it’s a very difficult to play and achieve this feat," he said.

And he praised the Emirati team. "The Al-Ain performance was fantastic. They were the only team who were not continental champions, but they eliminated all champions and they faced tonight’s game and fought well. I congratulated them for their efforts."

Al-Ain coach Zoran Mamic rued the number of games his side had to play, but was pragmatic in his assessment of the game.

"Congratulations to Real Madrid. They presented good football with lots of quality. It was hard for us today, it was our fourth game in 10 days and we didn’t have enough power.

"However, we had chances, but we didn’t take them, in the end Real Madrid deserved to win. We must learn how to play at a higher level. We are proud of our achievement, we will be happy and enjoy it."

Ballon d'Or winner Modric gave Real a 14th-minute lead, and Marcos Llorente's fantastic volley wrapped up the win on the hour mark before Sergio Ramos' late third and Tsukasa Shiotani's consolation.

Yahia Nader put through his own net in injury time as Real comfortably claimed their 11th win in 13 games and a first trophy since Solari took over from the sacked Julen Lopetegui in October.

Al-Ain started brightly and came close to taking a shock lead when Sweden international striker Marcus Berg could only prod the ball into the gloves of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

But Real did not wait long to make Berg pay, as Karim Benzema teed up Modric, who took a touch before curling a fine left-footed strike into the bottom corner.

Benzema went close with a blocked effort, before also firing over the bar.

A second goal always looked likely to arrive sooner rather than later, with Modric denied by an excellent save from Al-Ain 'keeper Khalid Eisa.

But the Emiratis hung in the game and could have levelled when Rayan Yaslam Mohamad Al Jaberi could only slice a shot out of play for a throw-in.

Real doubled their lead, though, as 23-year-old midfielder Llorente drilled home his first goal for the club with a wonderful volley from just outside the area.

The game was all over as a contest in the 79th minute when Ramos climbed above the Al-Ain defence to power a trademark header into the net from Modric's corner.

Japanese midfielder Shiotani glanced in a Caio free-kick to grab Al-Ain an 86th-minute consolation, but Nader deflected Junior Vinicius' effort past Eisa in the first minute of added time.


Former UEFA head Platini detained in Qatar World Cup probe

Updated 9 min 18 sec ago
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Former UEFA head Platini detained in Qatar World Cup probe

PARIS: Michel Platini, the former head of European football association UEFA, was detained for questioning by French police on Tuesday over the awarding of the 2022 World Cup football tournament to Qatar, a judicial source told Reuters.

Platini’s lawyer, William Bourdon, said his client was innocent of all charges. The detention of the former football star was first reported by French investigative website Mediapart.

France’s national financial prosecutor’s office, which specializes in investigating economic crimes and corruption, has been leading a probe into the awarding of the 2022 tournament to the Gulf emirate since 2016.

It is looking into possible offenses including private corruption, conspiracy and influence peddling.

UEFA declined to comment, while officials with Qatar’s organizing committee could not immediately be reached.

The decision in December 2010 to award the World Cup to Qatar surprised many given the lack of potential local audiences for the games, the extremely hot summer weather, and the poor performance of the country’s national squad. It will be the first Arab state to host the competition.

Le Monde newspaper reported that prosecutors were particularly looking into a lunch hosted by France’s then president, Nicolas Sarkozy, nine days before the vote that awarded the cup to Qatar. Platini and Sheikh Tamim Ben Hamad Al Thani, who was Qatar’s prime minister and is now the country’s emir, were guests at the lunch.

Platini has since acknowledged that he supported Qatar over a rival bid from the United States in the vote, but said Sarkozy “never asked him to,” the newspaper said.

Two of Sarkozy’s aides at that time, then Elysee secretary general Claude Gueant and Sarkozy’s adviser for sports Sophie Dion, were also questioned by police on Tuesday, judicial sources confirmed to Reuters. Dion remains detained with Platini. Gueant is a “free suspect,” the source said.

The lawyer for Gueant, who later became interior minister, was not immediately available for comment. A spokeswoman for Sarkozy declined to comment. A lawyer for Dion could not immediately be reached for comment.

Under French law, suspects can be held for questioning for up to 48 hours.

Platini was forced to leave his job as UEFA chief after he was investigated in another case over 1.8 million Swiss francs ($1.8 million) that he received from FIFA, the world governing body of football, in 2011. He was cleared in that case.

As a player in the 1970s and 1980s, Platini was a prolific striker, mainly for Saint-Etienne in France and Juventus in Italy. He played in three world cups, captaining the national squad to the semifinals in both 1982 and 1986.