Chivas Guadalajara blew an early lead by allowing three straight goals in a loss to Kashima Antlers in the FIFA Club World Cup quarterfinals. Then the Japanese club ran into Real Madrid. Namely, it ran into Gareth Bale.
The Welsh winger netted a hat trick in just over 10 minutes of match time as Los Blancos cruised to a 3-1 victory over Kashima on Wednesday to advance to the Club World Cup final. Real Madrid will play Al-Ain in the final after the UAE club surprised both Espérance de Tunis (which also beat Chivas) and South American champion River Plate in a shootout.
Gareth Bale was a one-man wrecking crew against Kashima, scoring in the 44th, 53rd and 55th minutes before he was mercifully subbed off in the 60th minute for Marco Asensio (who was then taken out 14 minutes later).
Bale’s first came in the closing minutes of the opening half. He played a one-two with Marcelo and placed his shot perfectly inside the far post.
Kashima defenders completely failed to track Bale’s run on the first goal so you’d think they’d pay attention to where he was to start the second half.
However, a lazy back-pass from Shuto Yamamoto was intercepted by Bale, who rounded the keeper and made it 2-0.
Bale completed his hat trick two minutes later, finding plenty of space in the box to power a shot past keeper Sun-Tae Kwoun.
Take a second look at the incredible pass from Ballon d'Or winner from Luka Modric to set up the goal. What vision he has to pretend to shoot and instead pass to Marcelo with a whiffed attempt.
With the hat trick, Bale became the top scorer in the competition in an hour’s work. Sweden’s Marcus Berg of Al-Ain and Rafael Santos Borré of River Plate had been tied for the Golden Boot on two goals apiece, though Berg’s club has played three times as many games as River and Real.
Kashima Antlers did pull one back in the 78th minute through Shouma Doi, but it was mere consolation against the European champs, who started a strong lineup with Marcelo, Modric, Toni Kroos, Sergio Ramos, Karim Benzema and Thibaut Courtois all in the starting XI.
The Club World Cup final between Real Madrid and Al-Ain will be on Saturday, Dec. 22, in Abu Dhabi. Prior to the final, Kashima will face River Plate in the third-place match.
Real Madrid has won the last two Club World Cups and three of the last four (Barcelona won in 2015).