Real survive scare to win club cup with Ronaldo hat-trick

first_imgBy Chris GallagherTOKYO,(Reuters)-Real Madrid suffered an almighty fright before a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick hauled them back from 2-1 down and gave them a 4-2 win over rank outsiders Kashima Antlers in the Club World Cup final yesterday.Two goals from Gaku Shibasaki stunned the European champions as the Japanese hosts took a 2-1 lead early in the second half before a Ronaldo penalty brought Real level on the hour.The 11-times European champions then survived several more scares and a possible sending-off for captain Sergio Ramos before Ronaldo scored twice more in the first period of extra-time.Real, who won the tournament for the second time in three years and were crowned champions for a fifth time overall, appeared set for an easy victory when Karim Benzema gave them a ninth-minute lead but Shibasaki changed the story by levelling one minute before halftime.Kashima were the first Asian team to reach the final although they qualified for the tournament as champions of host nation Japan. Asian champions Jeonbuk Motors had lost in the quarter-finals.“We knew it was not going to be an easy one. They were very aggressive,” Real coach Zinedine Zidane told reporters.Real went ahead when Luka Modric’s volley was parried by Hitoshi Sogahata and Benzema tapped in the rebound.Kashima refused to be overawed, continued playing their neat football and snatched a shock equaliser just before the break.Shoma Doi’s cross found Shibasaki, whose first touch was poor but he was gifted a second attempt when Raphael Varane failed to clear and he smashed the ball into the net.Shibasaki struck again six minutes after the break when he collected a poor Real clearance, got away from three opponents and fired a low shot past Keylor Navas from 25 metres.Real were facing their first defeat since they lost to VfL Wolfsburg in April, a run of 36 competitive games, until Lucas Vazquez was bundled over by Shuto Yamamoto and Ronaldo converted the resulting penalty on the hour.Kashima continued to give as good as they got and had three good chances in the final minutes of normal time.Fabricio’s goalbound drive was tipped over by Navas and the Costa Rican goalkeeper came to the rescue again one minute later by blocking Mu Kanazaki’s shot after he got free of the Real defence.Yasushi Endo could have won it with the last kick but fired wide at the far post while Sergio Ramos was lucky to escape a second yellow card for a push on an opponent, a decision which Kashima coach Masatada Ishii said “lacked courage”.Ronaldo ended Kashima’s dream when he collected Benzema’s sliderule pass and fired past Sogahata eight minutes into extra-time, then settled the match six minutes later with an emphatic finish into the roof of the net.“We gave Real Madrid problems,” said Ishii. “That’s what we were able to do. But we made small mistakes in positioning and judgment so it’s frustrating.”last_img read more

WBB : Seal the deal: With win over bottom-feeder Seton Hall, SU could ensure NCAA Tournament berth

first_img Comments Ten days of waiting.That’s what the Syracuse women’s basketball team would be saddled with if it loses to Seton Hall on Friday. Ten days full of anxiety, question marks and overall powerlessness as the days inch closer to Selection Monday and the Orange’s NCAA tournament fate.But Kayla Alexander said she won’t let that idea cross her mind.‘Devastating,’ she said of that potential waiting period. ‘That’d be the worst feeling ever. I’m not even going to think about that.’SU (21-8, 9-7 Big East) will hope to avoid that outcome Friday at 2 p.m. when it takes on the 16th-seeded Pirates (8-21, 1-15) in the first round of the Big East tournament in Hartford, Conn. It represents a crucial game for the No. 9-seeded Orange, as a bad defeat could ultimately relegate Syracuse to the Women’s National Invitational Tournament for the third straight season.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textA win gives SU a chance to knock off eighth-seeded Georgetown (21-9, 9-7) on Saturday at noon and potentially set up a rematch with top-seeded Connecticut at 2 p.m. Sunday.Much of SU’s success this weekend falls heavily on the sophomore Alexander’s shoulders. On Thursday, she was named to the All-Big East first team. And since a home loss to DePaul on Feb. 8, in which the center scored just four points, head coach Quentin Hillsman has made post play the focal point of the Orange offense. And Hillsman said Alexander and junior forward Iasia Hemingway will continue to carry Syracuse in the conference tournament.‘Absolutely it’s going to be the same thing straight through this thing,’ Hillsman said. ‘They’re our two highest percentage shooting starters, so we’re going to continue to put the ball in their hands and let them make plays.’Alexander had a streaky regular season, dominating opponents one game and becoming a forgotten factor in the next. She leads Syracuse in scoring with 14.4 points per contest but failed to hit a field goal in just nine minutes of action when the Orange beat Seton Hall 75-50 on Jan. 8.But in SU’s recent five-game winning streak, which ended Monday in a loss to UConn, Alexander and her frontcourt partner Hemingway powered the team’s offense. Alexander tallied 19.2 points per game in that pivotal stretch, while the junior forward Hemingway averaged 12.2 points.‘They’re rolling,’ senior guard Erica Morrow said. ‘They’re carrying the team. They’re opening up a lot of things for us on the perimeter. … Definitely we’re emphasizing getting the ball in the paint and just letting Kayla just go to work and do the things she needs to do to score the basketball.’The duo started rolling when SU desperately needed wins to improve its NCAA tournament resume. After the loss to DePaul, the Orange had just 16 wins and was 4-6 in the Big East.But Syracuse turned to its frontcourt for wins over conference bottom-feeders Villanova, Providence and Cincinnati and added back-to-back wins over Louisville and St. John’s, now the No. 6 and No. 7 seeds this weekend, respectively.The strategy for the Orange has been relatively simple. Hemingway gets the ball near the free-throw line, where she has the option to drive, kick the ball back out to a guard or dump it down to Alexander in the post. If she chooses the latter, Alexander has one job: get the ball up to the rim.The sophomore center has just one assist through 29 games this year, so she has adhered to her coach’s instructions. Hillsman said it would be a big concern for an opposing coach knowing Alexander will shoot every time she gets the ball inside.‘If I’m coaching against a post player,’ he said, ‘and she’s a 6-foot-4 kid, she shoots in the high 50 percents, you know she’s going to shoot it every time and then you know the team’s going to go rebound it, I think it’s a scary thing. We tell her to get it up on the rim because we feel good about it.’Syracuse is 4-5 when Alexander fails to reach double-digit points. The sophomore still feels her team has something to prove in the Big East tournament. A loss to Seton Hall would be devastating. But a win or two could seal SU’s berth in the field of 64.‘We’ve just got to go out there, play hard, prove that we believe we’re good enough and strong enough to play in the NCAA tournament,’ Alexander said. ‘And to go out there and get some wins and prove to ourselves that we’re able to play at the next level.’zjbrown@syr.edu Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Published on March 3, 2011 at 12:00 pmlast_img read more