Vinicius Junior and Fede Valverde scored two goals apiece to lead Real Madrid to a 5-3 win over Al-Hilal in the Club World Cup final on Saturday.
The celebrations weren’t over-the-top after the final whistle blew. Real Madrid, having put away Al-Hilal in a high-scoring Club World Cup final, didn’t storm the pitch. Instead, it was the standard slew of high-fives and hugs, a reaction more associated with a win over Elche on a rainy midweek in February than the European crown they captured last May.
Still, there was reason for some smiles. Madrid turned in one of their best attacking performances of the season, putting five past Al-Hilal to win their fifth Club World Cup.
Champions of the world does have a nice ring to it.
Vinicius Junior opened the scoring early, capping off some neat interplay with a side footed finish to give Madrid a 1-0 lead. Fede Valverde added a second five minutes later, with Abdullah Al-Mayouf fumbling his relatively tame strike.
Al-Hilal pulled one back after Moussa Marega coasted through the Madrid defence and slipped the ball past Andriy Lunin. There were suggestions that another might come, but Real did just enough to retain a 2-1 lead at half-time.
Karim Benzema quelled any comeback fears with a tap-in 15 minutes after the break. Valverde made it four shortly after, latching on Dani Carvajal’s through ball and chipping the keeper to put Madrid out of reach. Al-Hilal stuck around, though, trading goals in a high scoring affair that somehow ended 5-3, with just enough jeopardy to make things interesting.
Much like Chelsea at this tournament a year ago, this was a chance for Real Madrid to hold silverware during a season in which achievements might be in short supply.
Even if the Club World Cup can feel like a dressed-up friendly, grabbing the 100th official trophy in club history was an accomplishment worth savouring.