A Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick crowned Real Madrid as Club World Cup champions and ensured his side avoided an almighty upset to Kashima Antlers.
The European champions were strong favourites to win the tournament for the second time in three years, but found themselves trailing 2-1 to the Japanese side in the second half following an astonishing double from Gaku Shibasaki.
Ronaldo equalised from the spot just minutes later, but Real Madrid were taken to extra-time by a Kashima Antlers outfit doing just as much pressing as Zinedine Zidane’s Galacticos.
However, Ronaldo scored twice more to secure the win for Real Madrid and consign Kashima Antlers to a defeat they barely deserved. The Japanese team provided the storyline of this year’s Club World Cup, even if they finished a beaten side.
Should Sergio Ramos have been sent off? Real Madrid claimed another Club World Cup, but the outcome of this match could have been very different had Ramos been shown a second yellow card late in the second half. The referee appeared close to flashing a red at the Real defender, pulling the card out of his pocket, but decided against it. That would have given Kashima the upper hand.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Gaku Shibasaki (Kashima Antlers): The midfielder was emblematic of the quality Kashima Antlers possessed and the threat they posed to Real Madrid throughout the match. Shibasaki’s first goal was a piece of opportunism, but his second goal was an astonishing display of skill, awareness and conviction, finding the bottom corner of Keylor Navas’ net from the best part of 25 yards. He deserved better than to end up on the losing side.
9’ - GOAL! Real Madrid 1-0 Kashima Antlers: Real Madrid have the lead! Modric fired a half volley off at goal. It was saved, but Benzema was on hand to turn home the finish on the rebound.
44’ - GOAL! Real Madrid 1-1 Kashima Antlers: The Japanese side have equalised! Real Madrid failed to deal with a cross into the area, with Shibasaski given the chance to angle a shot into the far corner.
52’ - GOAL! Real Madrid 1-2 Kashima Antlers: Can you believe this? Shibasaki takes aim from about 25 yards out and finds the bottom corner of the Real Madrid net. What a strike!
56’ - PENALTY KICK TO REAL MADRID! The referee points to the spot after Vazquez is brought down by Yanamoto inside the area. Easy decision.
57’ - GOAL! Real Madrid 2-2 Kashima Antlers: There's the equaliser for the European champions! Ronaldo hasn't had the best of games, but he steps up to the spot and slams home a finish.
Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring during extra-time of the Club World Cup football final match between Kashima Antlers of Japan and Real Madrid of Spain at Yokohama International stadium in Yokohama on December 18, 2016.
Image credit: AFP
92’ - RAMOS VERY LUCKY! The Real Madrid centre-back was extremely lucky not to be sent off there. He took down a Kashima player on the counter. He's already on a yellow card.
99’ - GOAL! Real Madrid 3-2 Kashima Antlers: Finally, Real Madrid have the lead. Benzema slots in Ronaldo, who takes a good touch, spins and finishes past the goalkeeper with a low shot.
104’ - KASHIMA OFF THE BAR! That was a golden chance for Kashima Antlers to get back into this game. Yuma lost his marker and headed an effort against the crossbar. So close!
105’ - GOAL! Real Madrid 4-2 Kashima Antlers: Ronaldo has a hat-trick! He controlled a Kroos shot on goal and sent an opportunistic finish into the net to give the keeper no chance.
Real Madrid have now gone 37 game unbeaten in all competitions.
Real Madrid are now the club with most official trophies won in Spain (32, Europe (32) and the world (5) over history.
Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to have scored a hat trick in the final of Club World Cup and is now the joint-top scorer in Club World Cup history (5).