Gareth Bale joins Messi, Ronaldo in elite record-holding group as Real Madrid reaches finals
What's the story?
Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale has joined an elite group of record-holders, including the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, after his goal-scoring exploits in Real Madrid's Club World Cup clash against AFC Champions League winners Kashima Antlers.
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The reigning European Champions locked horns with the Antlers in a game that saw the Los Blancos side secure a 3-1 win to seal their place in the Club World Cup final.
Bale shone in the game, delivering all three goals for his side. Real boss Santiago Solari was left impressed with the Welshman, saying (via Marca), "Bale did everything, he tore them up. The goals, the movement, the performance all over the field."
"He has shown who he is and what he is capable of doing with his performance. We are very happy for him and we hope that he'll do it in the next game."
"Now we can head into the game on Saturday trying to repeat this performance and although we try to help the players, it is they who are responsible and capable of giving great joy to us."
"That's one of the most important things in football and although we know he will not score three goals in each game, we hope that he will repeat this performance."
The heart of the matter
With the hat-trick, Bale becomes only the third player to score in three different editions of the Club World Cup, joining Barcelona star Lionel Messi and Juventus ace Cristiano Ronaldo in the small, elite group.
The Welshman had previously scored in the 2014 and 2017 editions of the competition.
Ronaldo found the net thrice in the competition: once for Manchester United in 2008, and twice for Real Madrid in 2016 and 2017. Messi, on the other hand, scored for Barcelona in 2009, 2011 and 2015.
Bale also swooped in another record during the game, becoming only the third player to have scored a hat-trick in the competition, behind Ronaldo and Luis Suarez.
The win fires Real Madrid to the final of the competition where they will face Abu Dhabi-based club Al-Ain.