Real Madrid qualify for final

Gareth Bale scores for Madrid

Gareth Bale scores for Madrid

Bale netted all three goals as Real beat Kashima Antlers 3-1 on Wednesday to continue their bid to win the title for the third consecutive year.

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale scores their third goal to complete his hat-trick.

Kashima were regarded as the underdogs to prevail in Abu Dhabi but they nearly took the lead as early as the second minute, with Serginho seeing a low effort from 18 yards tipped wide by Thibaut Courtois.

"Response?", Bale replied while appearing surprised at the question. "No".

It took the European champions time to settle into a rhythm with Karim Benzema and Bale both wasteful, the latter failing to connect with a right-foot shot after neat build-up play. I don't have to do anything else.

Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois made two hard saves with the game at 0-0, and Japanese side Kashima got one back late on when slack defending allowed centre-forward Shoma Doi in for a consolation goal.

Vazquez missed the opportunity to make it four after being in the position to lob Suntae, but his final delivery lacked the desired power. We knew that it would be a hard game against a team that's going to make it hard for us.

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"It happens every day, it is just part of our reality. We are very happy for him and we hope that he'll do it in the next game".

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"Throughout my [early] career, I played from the left wing", Bale said.

Benzema could have added a fourth during the closing stages only to fire wide after latching onto Isco's pass, but Real were still able to comfortably see out the remaining minutes to stay on course for their fourth triumph in this competition.

A handful of underwhelming performances had been badly timed given the sacking of Jose Mourinho by Manchester United, with speculation linking the Portuguese with a return to the club never far away.

Solari was asked about the speculation linking Mourinho to his jobm but the Argentine was noncommittal in his response. "All of us, coaches, doctors, everyone at the club".

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