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.