Real Madrid advances to Club World Cup final

YOKOHAMA, Japan — Real Madrid beat Mexican side Club America 2-0 to reach the Club World Cup final on Thursday and extend its unbeaten run to 36 games.

Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo each scored to help the European champions reach the final on Sunday, when they will face Japanese champions Kashima Antlers.

Benzema took a pass from Toni Kroos and beat Club America goalkeeper Moises Munoz with a superb shot in first-half stoppage time. James Rodriguez set up Ronaldo’s angled shot deep in injury time.

“We couldn’t really find our rhythm in the first half and the pitch was a bit hard,” Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. “But we created more opportunities in the second half and I was very happy to see Cristiano score.”

There was a bit of confusion at the end of the game as referee Enrique Caceres initially appeared to gesture for the video referee, but ultimately the goal was awarded.

The video replay system which allows referees to halt games to review footage of “game-changing decisions,” was used for the first time on Wednesday. Refs can also rely on information being fed by video assistant referees watching broadcast feeds.

Madrid hasn’t lost in any competition since April 6.

It dominated the first half but struggled to penetrate the defence until Benzema’s late goal.

Ronaldo, who earned his fourth Ballon d’Or on Monday, sent a header off the post in the 26th, and had an open net in the 67th but headed the ball back across the face of the goal.

Madrid has a shot at becoming the first team to win the Champions League, Spanish league, Spain’s Copa del Rey, and the Club World Cup in the same season. It leads the Spanish league, is through to the knockout stage of the Champions League, and is alive in the Copa del Rey.

“We’re highly motivated to win this tournament,” Zidane said. “We travelled a long way and have jet lag but we are very well prepared in terms of being motivated to win the Club World Cup.”

Article Written by Associated Press of Sportsnet