Gareth Bale marks return from injury with winning strike

Gareth Bale scored moments after coming on as a substitute for only his second appearance since suffering a calf injury in September. to score Real Madrid’s winning goal with his first touch in their FIFA Club World Cup semi-final match against Al Jazira.

Bale, 28, scored after Al Jazira had taken a first-half lead through Brazilian forward Romarinho, who capitalised on a mistake from his Brazilian compatriot Casemiro to score four minutes before the break at the Zayed Sports City Stadium.

Mbark Boussoufa then had a strike ruled out for offside by the virtual assistant referee before Cristiano Ronaldo equalised for Madrid with a fine strike, as the Portuguese becomes the all-time top scorer in FIFA Club World Cups with six goals — one above Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Cesar Delgado’s five.

The Club World Cup features FIFA six reigning confederation champions plus the league winners, Al Jazira, of the host country, United Arab Emirates. Their loss meant that Zinedine Zidane’s side will now play Brazilian side Gremio in Saturday’s final.

“It is great to get a goal,” Bale said. “When you come on you like to make an impact like that. The most important thing is to get the win and get into the final.”

“I have still got some way to go get back to full fitness. It takes time but I have to be patient and listen to my body.”

Before falling behind Madrid had two first-half goals ruled out for infringements, with Karim Benzema’s header being disallowed for a foul by Ronaldo in the build-up and Casemiro denied after the video assistant referee gave offside against Benzema.

Benzema also hit the post twice between Ronaldo’s equaliser and Bale’s winning goal.

Real Madrid, who won the competition in 2014 and 2016 would equal Barcelona’s record amount of tournament wins if they are able to achieve a third success on Saturday.

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