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Ronaldo on target as Real reach world club final

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Real Madrid progressed to the 2016 FIFA Club World Cup final after defeating Mexico’s Club America 2-0 at the International Stadium Yokohama. Karim Benzema bagged a late first-half goal while Cristiano Ronaldo sealted the deal with a second deep in second-half injury time as Los Blancos set up a meet J.League champions Kashima Antlers in the global club showpiece event on Sunday 18 December.

Real Madrid, who were last crowned Club World Cup winners at Morocco 2014, looked the more threatening side going forward in the early stages but Club America did enjoy chances of their own. Oribe Peralta shot narrowly wide from just inside the area on 12 minutes, before Alex Ibarra valiantly won the ball and charged towards goal on 21 minutes, but his effort from range was held by goalkeeper Keylor Navas.

Real Madrid mounted considerable pressure on the CONCACAF Champions League winners as the first half progressed. Lucas Vazquez raced to the byline and delivered a cross from the right to Ronaldo in the centre of the area on 26 minutes, but the Portugal forward’s downward header hit the post. Toni Kroos then followed up with an effort a minute later, with Munoz reacting quickly to deny him.

While under pressure, Club America went close on 37 minutes when William Da Silva was played in with a delightful low ball from Miguel Samudio and launched an effort towards goal that Navas could  only parry out for a corner.

Real Madrid’s forward Cristiano Ronaldo (2nd R) dribbles the ball beside Club America’s midfielder Rubens Sambueza (2nd L) during the Club World Cup semi-final football match between Mexico’s Club America and Spain’s Real Madrid at Yokohama International stadium in Yokohama on December 15, 2016. / AFP

The UEFA Champions League winners continued to look dangerous in attack though, and their persistence paid off just before the break when Kroos played in Benzema with a nice through-ball and the Frenchman slotted past Munoz to open the scoring.

The pace of the game lessened slightly in the second half compared with an action-packed opening 45 minutes, with Real looking comfortable and in control. Ronaldo saw his shot from the centre of the area blocked by Paolo Goltz on the hour mark after a well-worked move with Vazquez and soon after, the Portugal star was in the mix of a Real attack again, heading the ball away from goal in the direction of Luka Modric inside the area, whose acrobatic turning-shot went just wide of the mark.

Modric tested Munoz again on 74 minutes, this time from range, but the shot-stopper was on hand to deny the Blancos midfielder. Substitute Alvaro Morata had a good chance to extend Real’s lead on 89 minutes after receiving the ball from Marcelo inside the area, but his curling effort flashed wide of the mark.

Ronaldo then sealed the deal with a late goal, having been set up by James Rodriguez, as Real made sure of a final date with Kashima on Sunday.

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