Gareth Bale scores hat-trick as Real Madrid beat Kashima 3-1 at FIFA Club World Cup

Real Madrid's midfielder Gareth Bale celebrates with teammate Marcelo, left, after scoring his side's third goal during the Club World Cup semifinal against Kashima Antlers in Abu Dhabi. (AP)
Updated 19 December 2018

Gareth Bale scores hat-trick as Real Madrid beat Kashima 3-1 at FIFA Club World Cup

  • Madrid qualified for the tournament between the top teams on each continent in large part thanks to Bale
  • Wednesday’s game was a rematch of the 2016 final, when Madrid needed extra time to beat Kashima 4-2

ABU DHABI: Gareth Bale put Real Madrid back in the final of the Club World Cup by scoring a hat-trick to lead the team to a comfortable 3-1 win over Japan’s Kashima Antlers on Wednesday.
Madrid qualified for the tournament between the top teams on each continent in large part thanks to Bale, who scored twice in the 3-1 win over Liverpool in May’s Champions League final.
Bale scored his first goal against Kashima just before half-time and added two more quickly after the break to decide the match.
“It’s an important victory,” Bale said. “We knew it would be a difficult game against a team that would make it difficult for us, so we just had to be professionals and get to the final.
“We had to work hard to win and I’m happy with the victory.”
When asked about his performance and his hat-trick, the Welshman said: “It’s great on a personal level but most important is to help the team to reach the final.”
Madrid will next play host side Al-Ain on Saturday, when the European champions will be heavily favored to claim a fourth club world title.
“I’m happy for the three great goals by Bale, and for the strength and consistency showed by the team,” said Madrid manager Santiago Solari.
Solari said that another world title would be “a prize for this team that has given its fans so much and accomplished the feat of winning three straight Champions Leagues. Adding three straight Club World Cups would be “fantastic.”
He added: “I am not worried about Al-Ain, but I expect good competition. They were able to beat Wellington and River Plate and are now in the final. We will have to be as competitive as today to win the trophy.”
Wednesday’s game was a rematch of the 2016 final, when Madrid needed extra time to beat Kashima 4-2.
This time they had no trouble.
Kashima had a promising start as Serginho shot just wide and Gen Shoji almost reached a corner kick that would have left him with a pointblank header in the third minute.
Madrid, however, took control and started probing the right side as Bale’s speed proved too much to handle.
Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos sent headers wide before Bale exchanged a quick pair of passes with Marcelo to score off the far post in the 43rd minute.
Bale’s second goal in the 53rd minute came after two horrible passes by Kashima defenders left their goalkeeper stranded and he added his third two minutes later after Marcelo found him alone in the box.
Bale was replaced by Marco Asensio, who later had to leave with an apparent leg injury.
Kashima’s Shoma Doi then closed the scoring with a goal in the 78th minute.
The match was interrupted in stoppage time when two fans ran onto the field toward Benzema and Marcelo. They were quickly removed by stadium security.
Kashima coach Goi Oiwa took responsibility for the result, saying: “In the match, soon after it started, we had chances, but we couldn’t finish.
“If we scored first, the result would have been different. We let the momentum go, we gave mental room to our opponents and we allowed them to take the lead. I am disappointed.”
On Tuesday, Al Ain caused a major upset by beating River Plate of Argentina on penalties.


Title, not invincible tag, the most important goal for Salah

Updated 18 January 2020

Title, not invincible tag, the most important goal for Salah

LONDON: Mohamed Salah says Liverpool’s focus is solely on ending a 30-year wait to win the Premier League title, rather than doing so by going the whole season unbeaten.

Jurgen Klopp’s men have dropped just 2 points in 21 games to set a new record for Europe’s top five leagues of 61 points from a possible 63 to start the campaign.

That has propelled the European champions into a 14-point lead over title holders Manchester City with a game in hand, but Salah insists the Reds are still taking their title challenge one game at a time ahead of Manchester United’s visit to Anfield on Sunday.

“We don’t think about being unbeaten until the end of the season. If we do that, it would be great, but at the end of the day we just want to win the Premier League. That’s the most important thing,” Salah told Premier League Productions.

“Unbeaten or not, it’s not necessary — we want to win the Premier League.”

Liverpool could move a massive 30 points clear of United with victory on Sunday, but the Red Devils are the only side to take points off them this season after a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in October.

Salah missed that match through injury and is keen to make up for lost time in the clash between English football’s two most successful sides.

“We need to win, we need to carry on in our way — the way we’ve been doing since the beginning of the season and since last year,” added the Egyptian.

“Of course we know it’s big for the fans, for the city and for us. But at the end of the day, we play the game to win.”