Cristiano Ronaldo ensured that Real Madrid became the first ever team to retain the Club World Cup, scoring the winner in the Abu Dhabi final against Gremio.
The European champions dominated the majority of the match, but struggled to create goalscoring opportunities, particularly in the first half. But Ronaldo found the breakthrough after 53 minutes, finding the bottom corner of the net with a deflected free kick.
Gareth Bale came off the bench to give Zinedine Zidane’s side some extra urgency and directness, with the Welsh winger making an impression. It ensured that Gremio stood no chance of finding the equaliser to take the game to extra time.
Real Madrid will now return home to face Barcelona in El Clasico on December 23 in a match they cannot afford to lose as they attempt to breathe life into a La Liga title race that many already view to be over.
VAR must be refined before global roll-out. Gremio could have been awarded a penalty for a late challenge in the box just before Real Madrid scored the opener. VAR wasn’t used, though. Ronaldo had a second goal chalked off for offside. Replays showed that there was no offside, but once again VAR wasn’t used. This comes after the farcical situation in the semi-final against Al Jazira when far too long was taken to use the system. Keep in mind VAR is set for a global roll-out next year. On this basis, there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Ronaldo (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring during their FIFA Club World Cup 2017 final football match at Zayed Sports City Stadium in the Emirati capital Abu Dhabi on December 16, 2017
Image credit: Getty Images
MAN OF THE MATCH
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid): There weren’t many standouts on either side and so the Man of the Match award must go to the man who decided the match - Ronaldo. His goal was his 16th of the season so far, which isn’t bad for a striker who missed the first five games through suspension and is deemed to be out of form. Time and time again Ronaldo makes the difference when it matters and this was exception.
3’ - BAD, BAD TACKLE! That could have been a red card in the opening minutes of this match. Geromel goes right through the back of Ronaldo. That was a terrible challenge on the forward.
53’ - GOAL! Real Madrid 1-0 Gremio. There's the opener and it's Real Madrid who have scored it! Ronaldo wins the freekick on the edge of the opposition box and the Portuguese forward fires the set piece through the wall and into the net.
Cristiano Ronaldo face au Gremio
Image credit: Getty Images
57’ - RONALDO HAS A GOAL CHALKED OFF! The Real Madrid forward thinks that he has scored a second, but the flag is up. Replays show that Benzema was ONSIDE when the ball was played.
66’ - OFF THE WOODWORK! That was inches away from being a second for Real Madrid. Modric thumped a shot towards goal from 25 yards, but the Croatian was denied by the post.
Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to score in consecutive Club World Cup finals.
Ronaldo scored his 53rd goal for club and country in 2017, equalling the totals of Robert Lewandowski and Lionel Messi for most goals scored in the calendar year.
Karim Benzema attempted more shots without scoring than any other player at the 2017 Club World Cup.