Benzema, Ronaldo help Real achieve target

Cristiano Ronaldo beating Club America goalkeeper Moises Munoz with an angled shot in second-half stoppage time in Yokohama. The 11-time European champions, who beat the Mexican outfit 2-0, will play J-league winners Kashima Antlers in Sunday's final
Cristiano Ronaldo beating Club America goalkeeper Moises Munoz with an angled shot in second-half stoppage time in Yokohama. The 11-time European champions, who beat the Mexican outfit 2-0, will play J-league winners Kashima Antlers in Sunday's final.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

YOKOHAMA (Japan) • Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo each found the target as Real Madrid eased past Mexico's Club America 2-0 yesterday to reach the Club World Cup final in Japan.

The Spanish football giants will face shock finalists Kashima Antlers, the J-League champions, in Yokohama on Sunday as they look to capture their second world club title in three years and fifth in total.

"Our sole aim was to reach the final - so it's job done," Real coach Zinedine Zidane said after watching his side extend their club record unbeaten run to 36 matches in all competitions. "We did not have a great rhythm in the first half, but in the second half, we created more chances and Cristiano was able to kill the game off, so I'm very happy."

His French compatriot Benzema said: "It was a hard game against a tough team. The conditions were difficult too with the long journey we've had, but we played well and won the game. Now, for the final."

With Ronaldo firing blanks until scoring with virtually the last kick of the game, Benzema struck in first-half stoppage time, finishing clinically with the outside of his right boot after a deft pass from Toni Kroos.

Ronaldo, who scooped his fourth Ballon d'Or earlier this week, had already squandered a gilt-edged opportunity by heading against the post.

The Portuguese superstar also saw two stinging efforts blocked by goalkeeper Moises Munoz but his dogged persistence paid off when he swept home from a tight angle deep into added time.

Confusion followed, however, when it appeared the goal could be ruled out using the video technology being tested by Fifa in Japan.

Ronaldo's face turned to thunder as the Mexicans protested that he had been offside - until Paraguayan referee Enrique Caceres finally indicated that the goal stood.

"It's a new invention but to be honest, I don't like it," said Man of the Match Luka Modric, when asked about video replays. "It causes confusion. I hope they don't continue with this system because for me, it is not football."

Zidane refused to criticise the technology, although his comments hardly amounted to a ringing endorsement either.

"If you ask me for my personal impression, it could cause problems," he said. "But if it's Fifa policy, then we have to get used to it. We don't have the power to decide. Maybe it will help make things clear and transparent."

Club America coach Ricardo la Volpe insisted that his side had been unfortunate to lose. "I think the luck was against us," the Argentinian growled. "Real Madrid were not the better team.

"It was a very tight game which we dominated for periods, but we were not aggressive enough. We just couldn't find the final ball."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 16, 2016, with the headline 'Benzema, Ronaldo help Real achieve target'. Print Edition | Subscribe