Vinicius Junior and Federico Valverde each scored twice as Real Madrid won the FIFA Club World Cup for a record-extending fifth time after a 5-3 victory over Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal in Saturday’s final in Rabat, Morocco.
European Champions League winners Madrid were heavy favourites against their counterparts from Asia and duly raced into a 2-0 lead inside 20 minutes with two goals in five minutes from Vinicius and Valverde.
But Al Hilal, the first team from Saudi Arabia to make the final, made the game a contest when pulling a goal back courtesy of Moussa Marega.
Madrid raced clear once again with two more quick-fire goals early in the second half through the fit-again Karim Benzema and a second for Uruguayan midfielder Valverde to seemingly make the result safe with still just over 30 minutes remaining.
Instead, Madrid boss Ancelotti is unlikely to be too impressed by his side allowing Al Hilal a route back into the game once more through a brace from former Atletico Madrid forward Luciano Vietto, either side of a second from Vinicius.
Al Hilal could have ensured real late drama if not for a bad miss from Marega, but Madrid had enough to see out an ultimately deserved win in a game that set the record for the most combined goals in a Club World Cup final.
The Spanish giants have now won all five finals they have played in the competition, having previously won three titles in four years between 2014 and 2018. The next most successful team in the FIFA event, which began in 2000 and has been held annually since 2005, are Barcelona with three victories.
European teams have now won the trophy in the past 10 Club World Cups.
“I think we’re improving, there were some mistakes at the back but a lot of quality up front,” Ancelotti said. “The players who were injured are coming back, Karim, [Eder] Militao, [Thibaut] Courtois, and this trophy gives us a boost to prepare this end of the season, and we still have a lot of confidence.
“It’s been a good tournament for us, the improvement we’ve seen in recent games, the rest of the season we’re excited to fight until the end in every minute, every game, every competition.”
Benzema was a mild surprise in Madrid’s starting lineup a day after Carlo 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 4-1 semifinal 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 their 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 goalkeeper, who started for the injured Thibaut Courtois.
The goal settled Al Hilal and Madrid were stymied until Vinicius made an exquisite pass to serve up a goal by Benzema.
Vinicius used the outside edge of his right boot to bend a cross around a defender and meet Benzema’s darting move. Benzema did the rest by using one touch to turn it into the top of the net in the 54th.
Valverde added his second in the 58th.
Vietto scored on either side of Vinicius’ second goal, netting in the 63rd and 79th as Madrid’s defence failed to track the Argentine in the box.
A late miss by Marega denied Al Hilal a chance to go for a last-gasp equalizer.