December 14 – Real Madrid beat local favourites Al Jazira in the semi-final of the Club World Cup in the UAE to set up a Europe versus South America clash against Brazil’s Gremio who qualified for the final with a 95th minute strike to beat Mexico’s Pachuca.
Al Jazira, who had reached the semi-finals having started in the qualifying round with a win over Auckland before overcoming recently crowned AFC Champions League winners Urawa Red Diamonds, were not going to be a pushover for the European champions chasing back-to-back Club World Cup titles.
Having weathered an early Real Madrid storm with keeper Ali Khaseif outstanding, Al Jazira went in a goal up at half time through Romarinho.
It took, almost inevitable, Real Madrid’s superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale to get them over line. Ronaldo levelled the scores in the second before Bale, returning from injury and coming on from the subs bench, scored the winner.
They now face a buoyant Gremio who scored deep into injury time through substitute Everton to beat a competitive Pachuca.
Pachuca now face Gremio in the third place play-off on Saturday before Real Madrid and Gremio play the final. Both games are being played at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
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