Gareth Bale’s winner ensures Real Madrid reach Club World Cup final

Guardian sport on 13 December 2017

Gareth Bale came off the bench to score the winning goal as Real Madrid survived a scare to reach the final of the Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.

Aiming to win their fifth trophy of the year, Zinédine Zidane’s side came from behind against Al Jazira in Abu Dhabi to set up a meeting with the Brazilian side Grêmio on Saturday.

Al Jazira, who qualified as hosts after winning the UAE Pro-League last season, went in at half-time with a surprise lead despite Madrid dominating possession and having 17 shots on target. Romarinho capitalised on a mistake from his Brazilian compatriot Casemiro to score four minutes before the break at the Zayed Sports City Stadium.

But it could have been even better for the manager Henk ten Cate’s side three minutes after the break had the video assistant referee not disallowed a second goal following a swift breakaway, with Mbark Boussoufa adjudged to have been marginally offside.

Cristiano Ronaldo made them pay immediately with the equaliser following a fine through ball from Luka Modric and Madrid continued to pile on the pressure as they went in search of a winning goal. That eventually came when Bale converted with his first touch just seconds after replacing Karim Benzema nine minutes from time.

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