- Vinicius, Valverde put Madrid two ahead
- Maaloul penalty made for nervy finish
- Rodrygo, Arribas sealed game
TELL ME MORE: It looked like it was going to be another one of those days in front of goal for Vinicius Junior, after he wasted an early chance one-on-one. However, the Brazilian got a second bite of the cherry just before the break when Mahmoud Metwaly's mistake put him through, and he lofted the ball coolly over the onrushing goalkeeper. The game looked all but wrapped up when Federico Valverde made it 2-0 from close range minutes after half-time but, as has recently been the case, Madrid made things difficult for themselves.
Al Ahly's mounting pressure was rewarded when Edouardo Camavinga gave away a needless penalty just after the hour mark, which Ali Maaloul put away with aplomb. The Egpytian side should have drawn level when Mohamed Afsha inexplicably fired over from mere yards out. Luka Modric then hit a tame penalty into Mohamed El-Shenawy's gloves following a contentious VAR decision, before Rodrygo sealed it at the death. Youngster Sergio Arribas put the cherry on the cake just seconds after coming on, with the final scoreline papering over a nervy closing period for Madrid.
THE MVP: If at first you don't succeed, try, try, and try again. Rodrygo had posed a threat to Al Ahly right from the first minute, and would have felt aggrieved not to have gotten on the scoresheet sooner. The Brazilian danced through in the early stages only to hit the post from the angle, and looked lively thereafter. In the 92nd minute, his moment finally came, linking up beautifully with Dani Ceballos before sitting El-Shenawy down with his typical coolness in front of goal. Special shout out to Arribas for his strike with only his third touch, but Rodrygo's electric display all game was definitely the standout performance.
THE BIG LOSER: There's no doubt Metwaly's error was a bad one for Madrid's first, but his side had somehow clawed their way back into the game long after that point. What is unforgivable, however, is the miss from Afsha after Al Ahly had only just pulled one back. Despite being on the stretch and being hassled by the Madrid defence, the Egyptian can have no excuse for firing over from effectively the six yard box. The scoreline on the night certainly flattered Madrid, and it could have been a different outcome altogether had Afsha found the back of the net.
MATCH IN THREE PHOTOS:Getty ImagesGetty ImagesGetty Images
WHAT NEXT? The result means Real Madrid face Al-Hilal in the final on Saturday, while Al Ahly take on Flamengo in the third-place playoff a day earlier.
MATCH RATING (OUT OF FIVE): ⭐⭐⭐