(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) The UAE club Al Jazira fought astonishingly well but went down against Spanish giants Real Madrid in the Fifa Club World Cup semifinals at a packed Zayed Sports City Stadium late on Wednesday.
Real Madrid had 35 attempts on goal to just six by the UAE club. Despite the loss, Al Jazira owe the result to an awesome display of goalkeeping by captain Ali Khaseif, and a fantastic job by the defenders.
After a nervous start that was played largely in the Al Jazira half, the UAE side blossomed in confidence. Once the inhibition was shed, Al Jazira youngsters treated Ronaldo & Co at par. Defenders Fares Juma, Salim Rashid, Mohamad Al Attas and Musallem Fayez took everything the Real army threw at them. Khaseif, till he lasted on the pitch, was the shield that Real failed to break.
The first 45 minutes saw some 17 attempts on goal with Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Luka Modric and Casemiro testing Khaseif.
The keeper dived right, left and held strong as Ronaldo & Co kept up the assault. He pulled his muscle amid all these attacks and continued with a leg wrap on.
Khaseif was also instrumental in the first try for Al Jazira as he hurled the ball forward and Ali Mabkhout was through but the striker missed the target with only keeper Keylor Navas to beat.
Al Jazira defender Mohamed Ayed too had a shy at goal. Twice Real had the ball in the net but the goals were disallowed.
And towards the end of the first half, Al Jazira did something unbelievable. They scored against the Fifa Club of the 20th Century. It was Romarinho who went clear on the left flank and deposited the ball through defender Varane and past keeper Navas on the left post.
Right after the break, Al Jazira suffered a big blow as injured Khaseif was replaced with Khaled Al Senaani. And with Al Jazira's guardian missing from the goal, Real found an equaliser in the 53rd minute. It was a pass from Modric, which Juma failed to check and went straight to Ronaldo, who belted it past a minute-old Senaani.
More chances came at either end but there were no goals as Senaani did some good glove work. However in the 81st minute, Gareth Bale replaced Benzema and the striker struck a ripper to make it 2-1 on the night.
Al Jazira as a UAE team can be proud of the performance as a bunch of professionals, amateurs and students didn't fall apart against the world's best. The local team, with the result, had earned Real's respect as Casemiro swapped jerseys with Romarinho at half time. There were incredible scenes of sportsmanship and football skills.
Real Madrid meet Gremio in the final, while Al Jazira will fight for third spot with both matches to be played on Saturday.
Legal Disclaimer: MENAFN provides the information “as is” without warranty of any kind. We do not accept any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, content, images, videos, licenses, completeness, legality, or reliability of the information contained in this article. If you have any complaints or copyright issues related to this article, kindly contact the provider above.