UEFA Champions League winners Real Madrid proved too strong for CONCACAF Champions League holders Cruz Azul as they defeated the Mexican side 4-0 in their FIFA Club World Cup semi-final holding in Morocco.
Real Madrid made it 21 consecutive wins in competitive matches as they triumphed comfortably in what was their first ever official meeting with Cruz Azul. First-half goals from Sergio Ramos and Karim Benzema gave Madrid the commanding lead. Goalkeeper Iker Casillas saved Cruz Azul captain Gerardo Torrado’s penalty before the break to thwart any potential comeback from the Mexican side.
Gareth Bale and Isco then ensured Carlo Ancelotti’s men will be heading to Saturday’s final with goals in the second half. Real will now face the winner of San Lorenzo and Auckland City in the showpiece event on Saturday, while Cruz Azul will play the loser in the match for third place.
In front of a festive crowd at Le Grand Stade de Marrakech, Madrid started out on the front foot when Dani Carvajal crossed from the right wing to find Benzema on the far post. Benzema then cushioned a header towards the six-yard box, where Cristiano Ronaldo was waiting to pounce, only for Cruz Azul goalkeeper Jose Corona to make a crucial reflex save.
The Liga MX side responded with a chance of their own five minutes later when Joao Rojas dribbled past Marcelo on the right wing only for Casillas to make a clearance. Benzema responded with a chance of his own in the 11th minute only to see his shot hit the side netting.
Benzema and teammates did not have to wait long for the opener when Toni Kroos’ free-kick from the right wing evaded Corona and found the head of Ramos, bringing back memories of the defender’s goal in the UEFA Champions League final last summer.
Rojas continued to cause Marcelo problems and the winger almost equalised when his left-footed shot was blocked by Ramos with a sliding tackle. But just when Cruz Azul’s belief began to show, Madrid got on the scoresheet once again.
Carvajal was able to get free on the right wing and finish off a long solo run with a chipped cross that found the onrushing Benzema who volleyed into the net from five metres out to give Madrid the 2-0 lead.
Real Madrid looked to be running away with the tie until Ramos fouled Hugo Pavone inside the penalty box. Captain Torrado then stepped up to take the spot kick, but shot was saved by Casillas to dash any hopes of a Cruz Azul comeback.
Madrid then used the momentum provided by Casillas’ save to score their third unanswered goal on the night. Ronaldo was able to look up and find Bale after a swift run on the left wing. The Welshman was left unmarked and found the net with his header, giving Los Blancos the 3-0 lead.
Cruz Azul had their chances after Bale’s dagger, but it was Isco’s goal after an effective counter-attack led by Ronaldo that completely dashed any hopes for the Mexicans.