Kashima Antlers 0-4 River Plate: Martinez signs off in style at CWC

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A 4-0 victory over Kashima Antlers in the Club World Cup third place play-off flattered River Plate.

The Argentines were dominant in possession but their Asian counterparts always provided a goal threat in what was a well contested tie at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Bruno Zuculini opened the scoring from a corner in the 24th minute before Rafael Santos Borre’s penalty in the second half was sandwiched by two Gonzalo Martinez strikes in his final game for the club.

Yasushi Endo’s corner early on saw Jung Seung-Hyun’s shot at the far post saved incredibly on the line by German Lux after Tomoya Inukai flicked header.

Kashima were forced to switch keepers when Kwon Sun-tae was unable to shake off a knock. Hitoshi Sogahata replaced him between the sticks in the 24th minute and his first order of business was to pick the ball out of the net.

Nicolas De La Cruz’s delivery from a corner was met by a towering header from Zuculini, leaving the substitute keeper with no chance as the ball crashed in off the far post.

Sogahata was in the action again, rushing off his line and saving well from a one-on-one with Alvarez.

Bruno Zuculini (r) opened the scoring.

Bruno Zuculini (r) opened the scoring.

Quintero’s drilled low cross found Alvarez in the box who rolled it into the path of the onrushing Martinez to slot away.

Kashima squandered several opportunities. Doi volleyed Hiroki Abe’s cross over before striking the cross bar a couple of minutes later. Ryota Nagaki also left the bar rattling with a late free-kick.

Borre then drew a foul inside the box and stepped up to convert the penalty, making it 3-0 in the 90th minute.

There was more gloss to be applied on the scoreline though and Martinez provided it with his second. The MLS-bound player signed off with a delicious chip from outside the area to end a superb evening for River Plate.

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World Cup final drew global audience of 1.12 billion

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A combined global audience of 1.12 billion watched the World Cup final between France and Croatia in July, FIFA, the governing body of world football, said on Friday.

In total, FIFA said, a “combined 3.572 billion viewers – more than half of the global population aged four and over – tuned in to world football’s ultimate competition” for at least a minute, over the course of the World Cup’s from June 14 to July 15.

A survey it had commissioned by FIFA found that 3.04 billion viewers caught at least three minutes, a 10.9 per cent increase on Brazil 2014, and 2.49 billion watched at least 30 minutes, or one third of one match, up on 2014’s 1.95 billion.

FIFA calculated that the average live audience for each of the 64 matches was 191 million.

The survey estimated that 9.5 per cent of that audience, or 309.7 million people, watched no coverage at home but “caught the action on digital platforms, in public viewing areas or in bars and restaurants.”

That proportion was higher for the final between France and Croatia. FIFA said 884.37 million viewers tuning in to traditional TV coverage and a further 231.82 million watching outside the home or digitally.

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Nothing to prove for Bale after hat-trick in Club World Cup semi-final win

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Gareth Bale said he has nothing to prove to anyone after his superb hat-trick fired Real Madrid into a third successive Club World Cup final.

Bale struck three times in a devastating 11-minute spell either side of half-time as Real overcame Japanese club Kashima Antlers 3-1 in Abu Dhabi.

The Wales international had been a doubt for the game due to the ankle injury which kept him out of Saturday’s La Liga victory over Rayo Vallecano.

“I don’t have to answer to anyone, I just play my football and do my best for the team,” he told Real’s website.

“I’ve played down the left, down the right and through the middle throughout my career. I’m comfortable wherever the coach sees fit.

“It was a tough game, but when all is said and done, we made it to the final”.

Speaking about his injury, he added: “My ankle’s still a little bit sore but I had to do the best I could for the team and that’s what I did.”

Real have the chance to win the tournament for a record fourth time when they faced UAE side Al-Ain in Saturday’s final.

The European champions are level with bitter rivals Barcelona on three successes having lifted the trophy in 2014, 2016 and 2017.

Man of the match Bale, who was rested for the final half an hour, has now scored six goals in five Club World Cup appearances and is determined to add more silverware to the Bernabeu trophy cabinet.

“It was great to score three goals but the vital thing for me is to get my team into the final,” he added.

“It’s a trophy that I personally want to win, and it means a great deal to the club. We all work hard to become champions.”

In the closing minutes of a fairly uneventful first half at the Zayed Sports City Stadium, Bale slotted in off the right post following a superb one-two with Marcelo.

The Wales international seized on a defensive error to stroke a second into the unguarded net eight minutes into the second period, before completing his treble by lashing in two minutes later from another Marcelo pass.

Antlers midfielder Shoma Doi reduced the deficit with a consolation 12 minutes from time.

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