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Ronaldo's hat-trick inspires Real Madrid to win Club World Cup

Updated: 12 19 , 2016 13:51
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YOKOHAMA, Japan, Dec. 18 -- Cristiano Ronaldo proved to the world he was the best footballer by scoring three goals to gift Real Madrid a 4-2 victory after 120 minutes battle with Kashima Antlers to win the Club World Cup here on Sunday.

Karim Benzema opened the scoring for the European champions, Gaku Shibasaki scored twice to put the Japanese side ahead, only to see Ronaldo converted a penalty to pull level in regular time.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said it was the "self belief" that made the team come from behind to win at last.

"Sometimes we struggle, sometimes we are not able to play what we want to play," said the 44-year-old coach.

"The good thing is we always believe in ourselves, always be positive and believe you can do it," he added.

Real Madrid started early as Benzema tapped the loose ball into the back of the net in the 9th minute after Luka Modric's shot was parried out by keeper Hitoshi Sogahata.

Kashima nearly equalized in the 11th minute, only to see Mitsuo Ogasawara's long-ranger off the bar.

In the 30th minute, Cristiano Ronaldo hit the free-kick into the wall and hammered the loose ball into the sky.

The Japanese side pulled level in the 45th minute as Gaku Shibasaki smashed the ball past keeper Keylor Navas and it was the first goal scored for an Asian club in Club World Cup history.

It was Shibasaki again in the 52nd minute who put the J league champions ahead. The Japanese skipper fired a long range shot which sent Navas no chance and found the bottom corner.

In the 58th minute, Lucas Vazquez was fouled inside the box and Ronaldo converted the penalty and Real Madrid was back on track.

The Japanese side missed the ultimate chance to embrace a historic home victory, only to see Yasushi Endo shoot wide in the final second of injury time and the match went into extra time.

In the 97th minute, Cristiano Ronaldo sent the ball home with his left foot after Benzema's pinpoint pass to put Real Madrid ahead again.

The 31-year-old completed his hat-trick and clinched the victory for Real Madrid in the 104th minute, by smashing the loose ball into the roof of the net.

The 31-year old was awarded the Golden Ball of the tournament and he was the only footballer who win Club World Cup in two different clubs after 2008 in Manchester United.

"This year has become unforgettable both for the team and myself," said Ronaldo.

"I want to play my best and make good result. I am used to the criticism, but on the pitch I will continue doing my job, enjoy my match and get more titles," he added.

By Sportswriter Wang Haoming

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