Gareth Bale Hat-trick Dispatches Kashima Antlers

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar December 21, 2018 18:20



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Gareth Bale Hat-trick Dispatches Kashima Antlers

By Satish Sekar in Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City Stadium © Satish Sekar (December 19th 2018)

Bale – the Difference

A Gareth Bale hat-trick scored in twelve minutes either side of half-time ended the contest early in the second half although Shoma Doi got a well-worked consolation with less than 15 minutes remaining.

Kashima Antlers, playing their penultimate match of their season started brightly. Serginho’s shot from the left required a fingertip save by Thibaut Courtois at the expense of a corner to prevent the Asian champions taking a shock lead. They had another chance from the resulting corner, but Gen Shoji’s header passed harmlessly wide. At the other end, Bale showed he was in the mood to impress, but an excellent defensive tackle by Jung Seunghyun thwarted him as he was poised to shoot.

At the other end Courtois had to be alert to prevent Doi latching on to Daigo Nishi’s probing pass. Real were not at full throttle. Prior to Bale giving los Blancos the lead just before half time, Benzema’s header from Bale’s cross was the best chance – that came after almost half an hour.

The goal came a minute before the break. Marcelo’s pass put Bale through on the left and he scored with a left shot across keeper Kwoun Suntae off the far post.

Game Over

Shortly after the break Bale turned provider for Karim Benzema, but the French striker saw his effort beat the keeper only for a fantastic goal-line clearance by Shuto Yamamota. The fine defensive work was undone by a calamitous error on 53 minutes as Shuto turned from hero to villain. His terrible back pass from the left wing was poked past Suntae by the captain Yasuhi Endo to give Bale an empty net to knock it into for a 2-0 lead.

Two minutes later Bale popped up on the other flank to complete his hat-trick. After a short corner, World Player of the Year Luka Modrić found Bale. The Welshman’s one-two with Marcelo put Bale in on the left. He blasted it into the opposite top corner.

“I’m happy for the three goals scored by Bale and for the solidity and consistency of the team,” Real Madrid’s Argentine coach, Santiago, who replaced the sacked Julen Lopetegui, told journalists.

“Bale has taken everything, the spotlight, the stage, the goal. He had a sensational match, he has shown what he is and what he is capable of.

“Gareth has given great joy to Madrid and has been decisive in very important moments, which is the most important part of football. What dominates football is goals and Bale scores them.”

Shortly afterwards he received a rapturous reception as he was replaced by Marco Asensio, but the substitute was later unable to continue and was replaced by Casemiro.

There was still time for Antler to show what they are capable of. Wit a sweeping attack began by substitute Koki Anzai. He pulled it back to Hugo Leonardo whose cross was nodded back to Doi by Endo. Doi surged forward and scored from the right across Courtois. A review found that Endo had not been offside in the build-up.

It proved scant consolation, but could have been worse as Benzema failed to convert two late chances. Santiago Solari’s team will have the chance to complete a rare double treble as they seek to add a hat-trick of Club World Cups to their treble in the Champions League.

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar December 21, 2018 18:20