(Al Jazeera) Real Madrid has won the Club World Cup for a record-extending fifth time after beating Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal 5-3 in the final in Rabat, Morocco.
Vinicius Junior scored twice and helped Karim Benzema with a third, while Federico Valverde added two more for the European champions in Saturday’s final.
Al-Hilal never led the match but showed it was no fluke that it had upset Brazil’s Flamengo to reach the decider in Morocco’s capital. Luciano Vietto scored twice and Moussa Marega once for the Asian champions.
Madrid last won the tournament in 2018. It also lifted the trophy in 2014, 2016 and 2017.
“Vinicius has been improving since last season just as the team has also grown. We won the Champions League and now the world title, and Vinicius has grown along the way,” said Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti.
“We are thrilled with what he is doing, above all because he keeps getting better. He is much more decisive now and is making the difference in every match.”
Benzema, meanwhile, was a mild surprise in Madrid’s starting lineup a day after Ancelotti said it was touch-and-go if he could play at all. The Ballon d’Or holder missed Madrid’s last two games, including the semifinal 4-1 win against Egyptian club Al Ahly on Wednesday.
The France striker cued the opener after he exchanged passes with Valverde and played Vinicius clear to beat goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf, who got a leg to the shot but not enough to keep it from landing in his net.
Valverde smashed a poor clearance between the legs of a defender, who deflected it slightly before it whizzed past Al-Mayouf to double the advantage in the 18th.
But after struggling in the opening period to even connect three passes, Al-Hilal found its stride after Marega caught Madrid’s backline, trying to spring an offside trap in the 26th.
The former Porto striker streaked away unbothered, sized up Andriy Lunin and fired past Madrid’s backup goalie, who started for the injured Thibaut Courtois.
The goal settled Al-Hilal and Madrid was stymied until Vinicius made an exquisite pass to serve up a goal by Benzema.
The Brazil forward used the outside edge of his right boot to bend a short cross around a defender and meet Benzema’s darting move. Benzema did the rest by using one touch to blast it into the top of the net in the 54th.
Valverde added his second in the 58th.
Vietto scored on either side of Vinicius’s second goal, netting in the 63rd and 79th as Madrid’s defence failed to track the Argentinian in the box.
A late miss by Marega denied Al-Hilal a chance to go for a last-gasp equaliser.