Madrid make it five !
Five times World Champion! Real Madrid secure yet another title in Zidane's first year in charge, yesterday seeing off Kashima Antlers, surprise finalists but a solid team who yesterday showed just why the made it to the Yokohama final. Once again Madrid came close to letting things slip. They won the Champions League final after extra time and a penalty shoot-out. They bagged the UEFA Super Cup in Norway after extra time and yesterday's final also went to 120 minutes of football. One player who crops continually as protagonist in these games is Sergio Ramos. Yesterday the defender should have been awarded his marching orders at the end of normal time but extreme leniency from the match official saw him complete the game.
This refereeing error (which had absolutely nothing to do with video replay evidence) took some of the shine off the win in a game that in truth Kashima did enough to win and can point to the injustice of the match official's decision in favouring the "big, powerful club". They regrouped after Benzema's early goal (incidentally the French striker had a wonderful match, one of his finest), and took advantage of Madrid's passive nature, drawing level and taking the lead. Madrid then pulled level with a legitimate penalty but as the game came to it's conclusion it was the J-League outfit who looked the likely winner with Madrid on the ropes.
11 v 10?
What would have happened in extra time playing against ten men? That, we sadly will never discover but match official, Sikazwe's poor decision will be long discussed. Another thing we picked up from the VAR system is that it can't compensate for human failing's of the referee. As it was Madrid played with the full compliment of eleven players and ran out winners. Ronaldo who in truth put in a discreet performance bagged two goals fitting of a No. 9 but away from the penalty area he was disappointing and this was somewhat compensated by his prowess in the box. The striker from Madeira just needs the patience to make the transition to that type of forward. A hat trick and man of the match award from the Yokohama final should help in propelling him in that direction.