Gareth Bale rescued Real Madrid from an embarrassing result in the semi-finals of the Club World Cup, scoring a winner for the European champions over Al Jazira.
The Welsh winger found the net with his first touch after being brought off the bench, ultimately deciding a whirlwind match in Abu Dhabi. Had it not been for Bale, Zinedine Zidane’s side would have faced extra time, with Al Jazira causing Real all sorts of problem.
The VAR was also at the centre of attention, with the system used to disallow two goals - one for Real Madrid, one for Al Jazira. An open match resulted in a highly entertaining spectacle, but this wasn’t the kind of performance Zidane would have expected from his side, with Real Madrid making hard work of the win.
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Now, the Spanish and European champions will meet Gremio in Saturday’s final of the Club World Cup as they attempt to retain their trophy.

Ronaldo (Real Madrid)

Image credit: Getty Images

TALKING POINT

Is it time to restore the BBC? Bale has made a habit of rescuing Real Madrid. He did in a Copa del Rey game against Fuenlabrada earlier in the season and he did it again in this Club World Cup semi-final, scoring a much-needed equaliser with his very first touch after being brought off the bench. However, Bale replaced Karim Benzema, meaning the BBC still haven’t played together since April. So considering the impact of the Welshman, is it time to restore the trio for Sunday’s final?

MAN OF THE MATCH

Ali Khasaif (Al Jazira): In the space of 39 minutes, Al Jazira goalkeeper Ali Khasaef saved 17 shots. Most of those shots were clearcut opportunities as Real Madrid battered on the door for a breakthrough. But the door remained closed until Al Khasaef was unfortunately withdrawn due to an injury. Only then were Real Madrid able to find the net. He might have ended up on the losing side, but Al Khasaef was the standout performer in this semi-final.

PLAYER RATINGS

Al Jazira: Khaseif 9, Rashid 6, Jumaa 5, Ayed 5, Fayez 4, Al Hammadi 5, Al Attas 6, Al Hosani 5, Boussoufa 8, Romarinho 8, Mabkhout 8. Subs: Al Sannani 5, Rabia 5, Al Otaiba 5.
Real Madrid: Navas 5, Varane 6, Nacho 6, Marcelo 6, Casemiro 5, Kovacic 5, Modric 6, Isco 6, Ronaldo 7, Benzema 5. Subs: Asensio 5, Bale 5, Vazquez 5.

KEY MOMENTS

7’ - ON TO THE BAR! Ronaldo comes close once again to opening the scoring. His header was a good one, but the Al Jazira goalkeeper did well to push it up on to the crossbar. Getting closer.
17’ - ANOTHER BRILLIANT SAVE! This is getting silly now. Khaseif gets up from his injury and pulls off another great stop to deny Benzema from finding the opener for Real Madrid.
32’ - IS IT A GOAL? Real Madrid have taken the lead, with Casemiro heading home from a cross into the box. However, did he push the defender before heading it into the far corner? Remember we have VAR here.
33’ - GOAL DISALLOWED! Well, after much deliberation Real Madrid have had their goal chalked off. Nobody is really sure why. Was it for an offside? Against who, though? What's happening?
40’ - GOAL! Al Jazira 1-0 Real Madrid. Incredible! Real Madrid have completely dominated this first half, they have had 17 shots on goal, but it's Al Jazira who break down the pitch, with Romarinho sliding a finish underneath Navas! The Gulf side have the lead.

Romarinho of Al Jazira celebrates after scoring his side's first goal

Image credit: Getty Images

46’ - AL JAZIRA LOOK TO HAVE SCORED! What a start to the second half by Al Jazira! Real Madrid were on the attack, but they are caught out on the counter attack, with Mabkhout squaring it to Boussoufa for the tap in.
47’ - WAIT, NO! VAR AGAIN! The goal has been disallowed using VAR. This is incredible. They had kicked off and everything before anyone realised that the goal had been chalked off. He was offside!
52’ - GOAL! Al Jazira 1-1 Real Madrid: Ronaldo has bagged the equaliser for Real Madrid and this one will definitely stand! That was his NINTH attempt of the evening, but he fires into the far corner of the Al Jazira net from inside the penalty area.
64’ - OFF THE POST! Inches away from being the goal to finally put Real Madrid ahead. This time it falls to Benzema, but he can only rattle the upright with his low shot. Getting closer.
69’ - OFF THE POST AGAIN! Benzema has struck the woodwork for a second time. He completely scuffed his shot, but the ball spins up and on to the base of the post. Wow. That was close to a fluke.
81’ - GOAL! Al Jazira 1-2 Real Madrid: He's done it again! Bale has scored with his first touch after being brought off the bench. The ball was cut back to the Welsh winger and he had the simple task of finishing into he gaping net from close range.

Gareth Bale (Real Madrid) libérateur contre Al Jazira

Image credit: Getty Images

KEY STATS

Gareth Bale scored with his first touch after coming off the bench against Al Jazira.
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