Real Madrid 'suffered' vs. Al-Jazira due to wasted chances - Luka Modric
Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric says his team's inability to convert their chances was the reason why they "suffered" in Wednesday's 2-1 Club World Cup semifinal victory against Al-Jazira in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
Madrid dominated possession against Al-Jazira, but Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema missed a host of chances before the Dubai-based club took the lead when Romarinho took advantage of some poor defending.
Even after Ronaldo's equaliser early in the second half made him the tournament's record goal scorer, Zinedine Zidane's side kept passing up opportunities, before substitute Gareth Bale eventually found the back of the net with his first touch with just nine minutes remaining.
"We suffered a lot," Modric said. "We knew before the game we would have a difficult game, but I believe the problem was that we played well, created chances, but could not finish them and score goals. That is why we suffered a lot."
Bale has barely featured since September due to persistent calf and thigh problems, but Modric said the Wales international would hopefully be back contributing regularly to the team.
"It was important for Cris [Ronaldo] to score again, and Bale after a long time," he said. "For sure this means a lot for him, will give him extra confidence. I am very happy for him, and hope he continues like this, and gets well physically. He can help us a lot this season."
The game brought further controversy regarding video assistant referee (VAR) technology, with Benzema and Casemiro having goals ruled out at 0-0, and then Al-Jazira thinking they had gone 2-0 ahead only for officials to spot an offside.
Modric recalled how his criticism of VAR at last year's Club World Cup in Tokyo had not gone down well in some quarters, but he still feels the time it takes for decisions to be made was having a negative impact on the game.
"Last year I said something that others did not like," Modric said. "For me it is a little confusing, I don't know in what situations they want to use this. Today with Casemiro's goal, they said it was offside for Karim interfering in play. But for me it was not like that.
"In the second goal for them it helped us. I believe it can help football in some aspects, but some decisions take too long to make. I don't want to get into it too much, others will decide. We are better off focusing on our football as we have no impact on what happens."
Bale told FIFA.com afterwards that his last three months on the sidelines had not been easy, but that his teammates had helped him through the recovery process.
"Yes, it's been a difficult period," the former Tottenham man said. "Every footballer goes through phases in which they have injury problems, but they've been right there with me, asking how I was doing in my rehabilitation process.
"It's nice to be back on the pitch playing again. Now I just have to keep going."
Ronaldo's equaliser set another record for the Portugal international, who is now the Club World Cup's all-time top scorer with six in his six competition appearances, something Bale learned from his FIFA interviewer.
"I didn't know that, but I'll definitely congratulate [Ronaldo] now," he said.
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan