Ronaldo's goals, Benzema's class decisive as Real Madrid win Club World Cup
Real Madrid won the FIFA Club World Cup for a second time after overcoming Japan's well-organized and dangerous Kashima Antlers side. Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick, with his first taking the game to extra time and, subsequently, two more that sealed the title. Earlier, after Karim Benzema opened the scoring, Kashima hit back to take the lead with goals either side of half time through Gaku Shibasaki.
Madrid dug deep to beat a determined rival, who had the benefits of home advantage; Zinedine Zidane's side reacted positively to going behind. Lucas Vazquez was excellent, and Benzema was at his best in leading the line with skill and vision. Despite Kashima's defensive organization, Real managed 31 shots, with 12 on target.
The defending was poor at times, and Kashima had their chances to win the match against the European champions, including late in normal time when Keylor Navas was forced into a superb save to deny substitute Fabricio, after which Yasushi Endo blazed a shot wide.
6 -- Zidane should have used more than one of his substitutes in normal time, and not doing so was a decision that could have backfired spectacularly had Kashima taken any of their late chances. Replacing Vazquez, one of the best players on the pitch, with the less mobile Isco did not help Real's attacking flow in the final 10 minutes of the 90.
Player Ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Keylor Navas, 7 -- He should have covered Kashima's second goal but was badly positioned. However, he made a great save from Fabricio late on and smothered further danger from Mo Kanazaki one minute later.
DF Dani Carvajal, 6 -- The full-back could have brushed off Shibasaki ahead of the second goal, though he was not the only guilty party. Carvajal later got under a dangerous cross to clear and was generally solid defensively without providing much going forward.
DF Sergio Ramos, 6 -- An ill-judged clearance led to Kashima's second and he went into the book when frustration got the better of him just after Real had gone behind. Ramos should have been sent off at the end of normal time for a second bookable offence.
DF Raphael Varane, 7 -- Varane was excellent, except when it really counted. He completely lost Shibasaki for the equalizer but otherwise was the standout performer among Real's back four.
DF Marcelo, 7 -- Active in defensive duty, he made several interventions in the first half and ran himself ragged on the left throughout the game as he sought to carve open Kashima's well-drilled back four.
MF Casemiro, 7 -- Effective as usual, he dropped back into defence when the full-backs pushed up and overall, turned in a combative performance with no obvious errors. He found his way into the referee's note book for a cynical challenge on Kanazaki in extra time as his energy levels dropped.
MF Toni Kroos, 7 -- He made two spectacular runs through the Kashima defence and was excellent in his distribution, picking a few neat passes in and around the area although he was dispossessed too easily on occasion in extra-time.
MF Luka Modric, 7 -- Modric's fizzing shot led to the opening goal as Kashima keeper Hitoshi Sogahata could only parry the drive into Benzema's path. As ever, the Croatian was the architect of much of Real's attacking play and a source of frustration for Kashima, who could not find a way to shut him down.
FW Lucas Vazquez, 8 -- He was excellent, with a beautiful back-heel flick teeing up Benzema early on. Vasquez won the penalty that took the game to extra-time and was generally full of running, putting in a series of decent crosses and troubling Kashima with his directness.
FW Cristiano Ronaldo, 8 -- A proper Jekyll and Hyde job from the Portuguese forward, who was awful for most of the game; Modric even threw up his arms in exasperation at one stage as Ronaldo lost possession yet again. But after the penalty, which he buried expertly, he came to life and won the game with two clinical extra-time finishes.
FW Karim Benzema, 9 -- Sharp from the word go, he reacted quickest to stab in the rebound from Modric's effort. In addition to scoring, the forward linked up play and provided several excellent balls for his teammates, including an inch-perfect delivery for Ronaldo's second. This was an all-round performance up there with Benzema's best.
MF Isco, 6 -- His lack of pace was showed up after replacing Vazquez on the right, where he was dealt with comfortably by the Kashima defence. As he couldn't outrun the opposition, he tried to be too intricate with his footwork and lost possession too often.
MF Mateo Kovacic, NR -- Replaced Modric in the second half of extra time to add some fresh legs and did his bit.
DF Nacho, NR -- On for Ramos with 10 minutes to go, Nacho didn't have a lot to do.
FW Alvaro Morata, NR -- The fourth substitute twisted and turned beautifully to carve out a chance for himself in a lively cameo.
Rob Train covers Real Madrid and the Spanish national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Cafc13Rob.