Winners of the Fifa Club World Cup, Real Madrid Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Al Ain showed the world what UAE football is all about in a valiant 4-1 defeat to Real Madrid in the Fifa Club World Cup final at Zayed Sports City on Saturday.

Luka Modric had the Spaniards 1-0 up at half-time before second half strikes from Marcos Llorente and Sergio Ramos. Al Ain’s Tsukasa Shiotani pulled one back before the end but not before Vinicius Junior got another for Real.

In the end the score-line didn’t adequately reflect the heart Al Ain put in to pulling off a miracle.

This is Real Madrid’s third Club World Cup win in a row and they now overtake Barcelona for the record of most titles with four.

Al Ain, meanwhile, became the first UAE side to play in a Club World Cup final, beating Al Jazira’s previous best finish for the country, when they made the semi-finals last year before a 2-1 defeat to Real.

The tournament will be remembered for Al Ain’s shock 5-4 penalty shootout win over River Plate in the semis, which will go down as the UAE’s greatest sporting moment, and one of world football’s biggest upsets. It’s just a shame they couldn’t keep it going.

A nervy start saw both sides go close early on. Marcos Llorente’s cross was knocked onto the post by Mohammad Fayez on four minutes, and up the other end Hussain Al Shahat almost got around Thibaut Courtois after a bad back pass.

Al Shahat had another go soon after, cutting in from the flank and getting around Courtois before his effort was cleared off the line by Sergio Ramos.

Luka Modric then settled Madrid’s nerves on 14 minutes after Karim Benzema chested down a cross to tee-up the Ballon D’Or winner for his curled effort into the bottom corner.

Lucas Caio looked to have immediately answered Real a minute later, but his goal was ruled offside.

Lucas Vazquez shot wide from a Dani Carvajal cut back, and Benzema struck over from Vazquez’ cross, as Real went in search of more.

Gareth Bale’s header from a corner was tipped over by Khaled Eisa, and Modric’s shot in from the resulting corner was again well saved by the keeper.

Bale hit the top of the net with an overhead kick early in the second half after Modric’s cross, which was flipped skywards by a defender and first headed in by Vazquez, then punched out by Eisa, before it was returned by the Welshman’s athleticism.

Benzema was kept out by Eisa’s feet after being put through by Modric on the hour, but from the corner that followed Llorente was able to pound the ball back into the bottom corner after a defender headed it into his path as he waited on the edge of the box.

Eisa was again called into play to stop Bale in a one-on-one strike, while similar occurred when Caio was kept out in a one-on-one with Courtois soon after.

Ramos then headed in a corner on 79 minutes to confirm the victory for what is his 20th title with the club. But not before Al Ain’s Tsukasa Shiotani headed in Caio’s free-kick for a consolation on 86 minutes.

Vinicius Junior then got a fourth on 91 minutes with a shot deflected off Yahya Nader to make the score-line a lot worse than it seemed for Al Ain.

A nervy start saw both sides go close early on. Marcos Llorente’s cross was knocked onto the post by Mohammad Fayez on four minutes, and up the other end Hussain Al Shahat almost got around Thibaut Courtois after a bad back pass.

Al Shahat had another go soon after, cutting in from the flank and getting around Courtois before his effort was cleared off the line by Sergio Ramos.

Luka Modric then settled Madrid’s nerves on 14 minutes after Karim Benzema chested down a cross to tee-up the Ballon D’Or winner for his curled effort into the bottom corner.

Lucas Caio looked to have immediately answered Real a minute later but his goal was ruled offside.

Lucas Vazquez shot wide from a Dani Carvajal cut back, and Benzema struck over from Vazquez’ cross, as Real went in search of more.

Gareth Bale’s header from a corner was tipped over by Khaled Eisa, and Modric’s shot in from the resulting corner was again well saved by the keeper.

Just before half-time however, Ramos was booked for a cynical tackle on Caio, which saw the Spanish side’s captain booked.


UAE's leaders took to twitter to congratulate the winning team and express their pride in their home-grown group at the end of the match.


A sea of purple and white has descended upon the national stadium in Abu Dhabi to see who will be crowned world champions after tonight’s game, which kicks-off at 8.30pm.

Al Ain fans in fine voice ahead of their unthinkable #ClubWC final with Real Madrid. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Real are chasing a third straight title to take their tally to a record four, one clear of Barcelona, while Al Ain are looking to make history as the first host side to win the tournament in its current format.

The annual decider pitches six continental champions together along with the host’s representative side, who qualify – as Al Ain have done this year – by winning their own domestic league title.

Rarely are the hosts expected to get this far against such illustrious competition, but Al Ain have already beaten the record for the furthest a UAE club has gone in the tournament, set by Al Jazira who reached the semis before a 2-1 defeat to Real last year. Now they can go a step further by pulling off one of the greatest upsets in football history.

They have already stunned South American champions River Plate 5-4 on penalties in Tuesday’s semi. That was after beating Oceanian champions Wellington 4-3 in the play-off and African champions ES Tunis 3-0 in the quarter.

Real have only had to dispense of Kashima Antlers 3-1 in their semi on Wednesday as they were seeded straight into the last four, but after their worst start to a season in 17 years and their worst domestic strike rate in 25 years at this stage in a season, nothing is guaranteed for them in the final.

Before all this is the third-place play-off between River Plate and Kashima Antlers at the same venue from 5.30pm.