Head coach Santiago Solari hailed Real Madrid’s ceaseless desire to “never get tired of winning” after they beat hosts Al Ain 4-1 to complete a historic run of three-successive Champions League and Club World Cup-doubles.
Saturday night’s red-hot favourites, unsurprisingly, dominated from the off at Zayed Sports City as the 2018 edition came to an end. Superb goals from Luka Modric, man-of-the-match Marcos Llorente and skipper Sergio Ramos put them 3-0 up by 78 minutes, prior to Tsukasa Shiotani’s headed consolation and substitute Yahia Nader’s injury-time own goal.
“The team is used to repeat success,” said Solari, who won the Intercontinental Cup with Los Blancos as a winger in 2002 and has now overseen a record fourth CWC triumph. “The more you win, you realise is the most difficult thing to win.
“I enjoy to see how much they [the players] enjoy it. The value they give to it and seriousness we put into the tournament.
“This is because we played in the semi-final without conceding anything. Today, we gave a great match. Football can always give surprises. We didn’t mark properly at the start, but then improved.
“This team has already won a lot. But they never get tired of winning.”
The occasion was a special one for 23-year-old centre midfielder Llorente. His delightful half volley on the hour mark rocketed into the bottom corner, breaking the Castilla product’s first-team goal drought at the 33rd time of asking.
“When you accomplish things like that, you have to be very happy,” said Llorente, who represents the third generation of Madrid footballers drawn from his family.
“It is not every day you win a final. And to score a goal for the team is the top thing, for me.”
“We are very happy about this. We always want to get all the titles, we push for them.
“We also wanted to get this record of winning it so many times. It is a good prize for the team to end the year in a positive way and get ready to work for the next year.”
In the opposite corner, pride was the overriding emotion.
The Boss were expected to make the semi-finals, at best. Instead, they deservedly edged Copa Libertadores titans River Plate on penalties to become the UAE’s first finalists.
Prior to this, they’d roared back from 3-0 down to win another shootout against New Zealand amateurs Team Wellington and battered CAF Champions League giants Esperance de Tunis 3-0.
Coach Zoran Mamic praised the attitude of his Arabian Gulf League-holders.
He said: “First of all, congratulations to Madrid, they deserved to win this trophy. They presented good football, with lots of quality.
“I think at the end, we played a good tournament. It was very hard for us, a fourth game in roughly 10 days.
“We didn’t have enough power to make life difficult for Real. We had some good situations in the first half, with El Shahat.
“But we didn’t use them. At this level, if you want to make life difficult, you have to use your chances.
“We have to learn from this tournament, how to play with the big guys. On the other side, we have to be proud of what we achieved.
“No one thought we’d be in the final. We have to be proud, be happy and enjoy it.
“There is a new challenge in a few days. We have to come back to reality and concentrate on the local football.”
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