RABAT – Real Madrid reached the Club World Cup final after goals from Vinicius Jr, Federico Valverde, Rodrygo and Sergio Arribas secured a 4-1 win over Egypt’s Al Ahly in Morocco on Wednesday.
Playing without several key starters like forward Karim Benzema and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, Real Madrid experienced a home field environment, with the local fans turning up the noise at the sold-out Prince Moulay Abdallah stadium in Rabat.
The white Real Madrid jerseys outnumbered Al Ahly’s red by a huge margin and the Morocco fans even displayed a giant banner in support of the Spanish giants, creating a vibrant atmosphere and a din that is rare for a Club World Cup in what was supposed to be a neutral stadium.
They struggled to break the deadlock, however, against Al Ahly’s well organised defence, with the Egyptians threatening on the counter-attack.
Vinicius shot wide in the 28th minute and Rodrygo hit the post but Real opened the scoring right on halftime.
Aliou Dieng gave a poor pass to Mahmoud Metwaly who, pressured by Vinicius, lost the ball to the Brazilian and he dinked a fine strike over the goalkeeper, his 50th goal in 202 matches for Real Madrid.
Valverde extended Real’s lead just after the break, tapping into an empty net after the goalkeeper had palmed away Rodrygo’s point-blank strike.
Vinicius twice wasted opportunities to extend the lead and Al Ahly received a lifeline when Eduardo Camavinga tripped Hussein El Shahat inside the area in the 65th minute and defender Ali Maaloul tucked away the penalty.
Afsha missed a sitter from close-range that would have been the equaliser for Al Ahly and although Real’s Luka Modric missed a penalty three minutes from the end of the game, Rodrygo and substitute Arribas completed a comfortable win in stoppage time with close-range strikes.
Real will face Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal in the final in Rabat on Saturday after they shocked South American champions Flamengo 3-2 in the first semi-final.
“We arrived here with great enthusiasm to play the final,” coach Carlo Ancelotti said.
“We have the excitement to play the final and the concern to play it well. We have to rest, although we don’t have much time. We have to rest well to try to win.” REUTERS