Real overcome Al Ahly to reach Club World Cup final

Valverde and Vinicius scored two of the goals
Valverde and Vinicius scored two of the goalsAFP
UEFA Champions League holders Real Madrid came out on top in an entertaining meeting between the most decorated clubs of Europe and Africa, beating Al Ahly 4-1 to set up a FIFA Club World Cup (CWC) final with Saudi giants Al-Hilal.

Al Ahly hadn’t conceded in their previous four competitive games, and went largely untroubled during the opening encounters. Even in the face of such stern opposition, they also crafted their own chances, with Mohamed Sherif and Mohamed Abdelmonem each sending efforts off target early on. But Real always looked the wilier side, and started hitting their stride when Rodrygo pickpocketed Amr Elsoulia before dancing his way through and hitting the post with a dinked attempt.

Shortly after that near-miss, Hussein Elshahat's venomous strike at the other end forced Andriy Lunin into a strong save at his near post, as Al Ahly made more forays forward. In response, however, Rodrygo’s fellow Brazilian Vinícius Júnior eventually made the breakthrough in his stead with three first-half minutes to go, capitalising on loose play at the back from Al Ahly to delicately lift the ball over the onrushing Mohamed Elshenawy.

In the true manner of a team looking to win this competition for the fifth time, Real started the second period as they ended the first, and took just over a minute after the restart to double their lead. Federico Valverde coolly worked space for himself and finished after Rodrygo’s initial effort had been saved, all but giving the Champions League holders the key to the final.

Perhaps believing that a bit too much, Real gave the African giants a lifeline via the penalty spot. Eduardo Camavinga caught Elshahat in the box, and Ali Maâloul confidently stepped up to send Lunin the wrong way and renew Al Ahly’s hopes of taking Real all the way. Lunin was also forced to make a brilliant save to block substitute Taher Mohamed’s header, but Real then got their own chance from 12 yards, when Vinícius went down under pressure from Elsoulia, although Luka Modrić’s spot kick was authoritatively saved by Elshenawy.

Real’s third finally came when Rodrygo rounded off some wonderful link-up play with Dani Ceballos by providing a cheeky finish. Sergio Arribas then provided a fourth mere moments after coming off the bench, as Real secured their 11th win in 12 CWC matches to reach the final. Meanwhile, Al Ahly fell at the semi-final stage in a third consecutive CWC campaign, and will now hope to beat Flamengo in the third-place play-off to equal their best-ever finish in the competition.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Rodrygo (Real Madrid)

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