Madrid beat Al Jazira, reach Club World Cup final
Abu Dhabi: Gareth Bale needed less than a minute to help Real Madrid reach the Club World Cup final after his team faced a potential shock elimination from the tournament.
Bale scored with his first touch after coming on as a substitute in the 81st minute as Real Madrid came from behind to beat Emirates club Al Jazira 2-1 in Wednesday's semi-final.
Madrid will try to win its third world title in four seasons when its faces South American champion Gremio of Brazil on Saturday. The match had two goals disallowed by video review, one for each team. There was confusion when Madrid's first-half goal was ruled out by a decision that took a few minutes before the Video Assistant Referee became involved.
Madrid struggled early and allowed the local league winners to open the scoring with a goal by Brazilian forward Romarinho just before halftime.
But Cristiano Ronaldo equalized early in the second half and Bale netted the winner less than a minute after replacing Karim Benzema.
The Wales forward, coming off a series of injuries, scored with a low left-foot touch from the center of the area after a pass by forward Lucas Vazquez, who had also come off the bench.
"It was great to be able to score, but the most important thing was the victory," said Bale, adding that he's still not at 100 percent. "It's been a long wait, I've had to be patient."
He has played only 11 matches with Madrid this season because of lingering muscle problems. "Bale is all about scoring goals," Madrid defender Nacho Fernandez said. "He is a fantastic player. He scored a goal that means a lot to us. It's a shame that he has been injured, because he is very important for the team." European clubs have made it to the Club World Cup final every time since the competition's new format started in 2005, winning nine out of the last 10 titles.
Madrid, which fielded its top players, was in control from the start but made a series of mistakes in front of goal and couldn't capitalise on its numerous chances. Al Jazira goalkeeper Ali Khaseif made several difficult saves before being substituted with an apparent injury early in the second half.