Hat-trick hero Bale fires Real Madrid past Kashima and into the Club World Cup final
Gareth Bale helped himself to a hat-trick as Real Madrid beat Kashima Antlers 3-1 in the Club World Cup semi-final in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday evening.
Kashima Antlers 1-3 Real Madrid: match report
Real Madrid remain on course to win their seventh Club World Cup title after beating Kashima Antlers in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday evening thanks to a Gareth Bale hat-trick.
Kashima Antlers put up a challenge for the opening few minutes but once Real Madrid figured out their press, the Champions League winners were comfortable.
The half looked like it might end without a goal before Bale popped up with the finish. It came after a nice combination between Luka Modric and Marcelo, which ended with a one-two with the Brazilian and a finish in off the post by Bale.
Real Madrid continued in that same dominant fashion after the break and put the game to bed during a two minute spell that saw the Welshman bag his second and third and become just the third player to score hat-tricks in the competition after Luis Suarez and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The second goal came from a mistake by Yamamoto. he played the ball between his central defender and keeper but it made it to neither of them. Bale snuck in and slotted home as he brought it out to the right to finish.
The third came as Marcelo fed the attacker and Bale picked it up on the left. He slammed home and with that slammed the door shut on Kashima's hopes of a final date.
They did give themselves a lifeline after 79 minutes when Doi slammed home after Endo headed into his path. That was as close as they would get, however, as Real Madrid saw out the game.
The only bad news for them on the night was that they lost Marco Asensio shortly after coming on with a thigh injury that was troubling him in the build-up to the game but they did welcome Casemiro back after a long spell on the sidelines.
Real Madrid will meet the hosts, Al Ain in the final on Sunday with Kashima going into the bronze medal game against River Plate on Satiurday.
Kashima Antlers - Real Madrid: live updates
Kashima Antlers - Real Madrid: preview
Champions League holders Real Madrid take on AFC Champions League winners Kashima Antlers in the second semi-final of the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup this evening (20:30 local time; 17:30 CET), as Los Blancos begin their bid to lift the trophy for the third year in a row.
Kashima are familiar opponents for Madrid, who were given a major scare by the Japanese side in the tournament's 2016 final - a clash that saw the LaLiga giants finally claim a 4-2 victory after extra time, having at one point trailed 2-1 to the Asians.
The winners of today's encounter at Abu Dhabi's Zayed Sports City Stadium will face Al Ain at the same venue in Saturday's final, after the Club World Cup hosts surprisingly dumped South American champions River Plate out on penalties in yesterday's opening last-four tie.