MARRAKECH, Morocco (AFP) – European champions Real Madrid crushed Cruz Azul 4-0 to cruise into the Club World Cup final on Tuesday, totally outclassing their Mexican rivals.
Goals from Sergio Ramos, Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Isco saw Madrid record a 21st consecutive win in this semi-final at a packed and noisy Grand Stade de Marrakech, scene of last year’s final where Bayern Munich beat Raja Casablanca 2-0.
“This team deserves to win the world title,” said Real Madrid’s Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti after the easy and impressive win.
Iker Casillas did have to face a penalty in the 40th minute after Ramos was harshly judged to have pushed Cruz’s Argentine striker Mariano Pavone, but the veteran Spain stopper was equal to Gerardo Torrado’s weak spot-kick.
With FIFA and UEFA bosses Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini in the crowd, Ramos proved in the 15th minute what a lethal header of the ball he is, taking advantage of a mistimed run by goalkeeper Jose Corona to open Madrid’s account from a trademark Toni Kroos cross.
French centre-forward Benzema showed his astonishing speed in the 36th minute to pounce on Daniel Carvajal’s cross before the defence had even flinched to make it 2-0 after 36 minutes.
Cristiano Ronaldo provided the ammunition for the next two. Weaving unchallenged down the left-wing Ronaldo provided an inch perfect delivery that Bale nodded home totally unmarked in the 50th minute.
The Portuguese icon who was cheered every time he got the ball, then teed up the impressive Isco, who weaved past two defenders before unleashing a precise shot into the bottom corner in the 72nd.
The World Player of the Year Ronaldo had come close to opening the scores in the second minute, and also sent a couple of free-kicks fizzing narrowly wide, but the man who has scored 25 league goals in 15 games this season was unable to score here.
Luis Fernando Tena’s North American champions had struggled to beat Western Sydney Wanderers to make the semis and rarely troubled Ancelotti’s almost full strength side.
“We knew it was going to be hard and my players gave everything. But they were so much better than we were and the result reflects that fairly,” said Tena.
New Zealanders Aukland City take on South American champions San Lorenzo of Argentina on Wednesday to see who will meet Madrid in the final on December 20th, when Real should also welcome back Colombia’s World Cup star James Rodriguez, who missed Tuesday’s game with a calf strain.