Real Madrid are a tough proposition even for most seasoned European heavyweights, but Al-Hilal initially looked the likelier side to score, and buoyed by their historic 3-2 defeat of Flamengo in the semi-final, the rank underdogs focused their early attacks through playmaker Luciano Vietto.
With less than 15 minutes gone under the lights in Morocco, Karim Benzema helped carve apart the floundering Al-Hilal back line, before Vinícius Júnior strode into the penalty area and beat Abdullah Al-Mayouf with aplomb, opening the scoring in his second consecutive CWC match.
Eduardo Camavinga linked up well with Vinícius Júnior, and the Brazilian produced a wicked outside-of-the-foot cross to bemuse Al-Hilal’s backline and find the feet of Benzema, who was tasked with the easiest of finishes.
Al-Hilal’s chances of untold glory looked remote, but they were given fresh intent by a Saud Abdulhamid ball which released Vietto through on goal, and the former Atlético midfielder delicately dinked the ball over stand-in keeper Lunin for a goal against his old La Liga enemies.
Vietto was the man to have the last word even if the trophy wasn’t forthcoming, and he evaded several Real defenders before turning and finishing into an almost empty net to make the score a remarkable 5-3.
Although defensively troubled at times on the night, Real Madrid never looked in genuine danger of leaving empty-handed, but the bravery on display from this valiant Al-Hilal side will no doubt be enough to inspire a nation – if not all of Asia – to future glory on the world stage.