Saturday in Morocco, Real Madrid defeated Al Hilal 5-3 to win the Club World Cup for the record fifth time.
Al-Hilal, the Asian champions under Ramon Diaz’s management and the first Saudi team to reach the final, defeated Brazilian side Flamengo in the semis.
Chelsea won the final last year, but they were unable to defend it because only the host nation’s champion and the current champion of the continent are invited.
Madrid, winners of the European Champions League, were strong favorites to beat their Asian rivals. Vinicius and Valverde scored two goals in five minutes to give Madrid a 2-0 lead in the first 20 minutes.
Real was the dominant team at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium, even though the score was 2-1 at halftime, with Vinicius Jr. and Valverde putting the Spaniards ahead 2-0 before Moussa Marega scored for Al Hilal.
Despite Real’s dominance of possession and 11 shots on goal to Al Hilal’s three, the defense was occasionally exposed as Marega and Luciano Vietto posed challenges for Real’s defenders.
An entertaining and high-scoring encounter was offered to fans.
After winning the European Super Cup in August, Madrid won emphatically at Rabat’s Prince Moulay Abdellah stadium, securing their second trophy of the season.
It also gave them a much-needed break from their La Liga campaign, in which they are eight points behind Barcelona, who also beat them in the Spanish Super Cup final in January.
Madrid also won three Intercontinental Cups in 2002,1998 and 1960. These competitions, which were played between European champions and South American champions and merged into the Club World Cup in 2005, were won by Madrid.
If not for a poor miss from Marega, Al Hilal could have created some serious drama in the dying minutes, but Madrid held on for a well-deserved victory in a match that set a record for the most combined goals scored in a Club World Cup final.
A day after Carlo Ancelotti stated that it was uncertain whether Benzema would play, his inclusion in Madrid’s starting lineup was a slight surprise. The Ballon d’Or winner was injured for Madrid’s last two games, including Wednesday’s 4-1 semifinal victory over Al Ahly.
Al Hilal found their stride in the 26th minute when Marega caught Madrid’s backline trying to spring an offside trap, after struggling to even connect three passes in the first half. The former Porto striker ran away unnoticed, took a look at Andriy Lunin, and then shot past Madrid’s backup goalkeeper, who started in place of Thibaut Courtois because of an injury.
Al Hilal won the goal, and Madrid couldn’t score again until Benzema scored with an exquisite pass from Vinicius.
After defeating Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal 5-3, Real Madrid was crowned Club World Cup champion for a record-extending fifth time.
Real’s victory means that European teams have won the last ten tournaments. Real has also won three Intercontinental Cup trophies, which were a precursor to the Club World Cup, for a total of eight global titles.