Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo found the target as Real Madrid eased past Mexico’s Club America 2-0 on Thursday to reach the Club World Cup final in Japan.
The Spanish giants will face shock finalists Kashima Antlers, the J-League champions, in Yokohama on Sunday as they look to capture their second world title in three years and fifth in total.
“Our sole aim was to reach the final — so it’s job done,” Real coach Zinedine Zidane said after watching his side extend their club record unbeaten run to 36 matches in all competitions.
“We didn’t have a great rhythm in the first half, but in the second half we created more chances and Cristiano was able to kill the game off so I’m very happy,” added the Frenchman.
“It was a long flight to Japan and we have very few days to rest and prepare for the final, but we have come here to win this Club World Cup.”
His countryman Benzema said: “It was a hard game against a tough team. The conditions were difficult too with the long journey we’ve had, but we played well and won the game — now for the final.”
With Ronaldo firing blanks until scoring with virtually the last kick of the game, Benzema struck in first-half stoppage time, finishing clinically with the outside of his right boot after a deft pass from Toni Kroos.
Ronaldo, who scooped his fourth Ballon d’Or earlier this week, had already squandered a gilt-edged opportunity by heading against the post.
The Portuguese superstar also saw two stinging efforts blocked by goalkeeper Moises Munoz but his dogged persistence paid off when he swept home from a tight angle deep into injury time.
Confusion followed, however, when it appeared the goal could be ruled out using the video technology being trialled by FIFA in Japan.