Bale matches Ronaldo, Messi with Club World Cup hat-trick

Gareth Bale joined a prestigious group after scoring a brilliant hat-trick for Real Madrid at the Club World Cup on Wednesday. 

The Wales international squeezed Madrid's opening goal past Kashima Antlers goalkeeper Kwoun Sun-tae shortly before half-time and pounced on a defensive mix-up after the break to score again, with his third goal soon after putting the result beyond doubt in the second semi-final. 

Bale has now scored in three different editions of the competition, having also found the net in 2014 and 2017, a feat only previously achieved by two other players. 

Of course, those two just happen to be former Madrid team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi. 

Ronaldo netted for Manchester United in 2008, then again for Madrid in 2016 and 2017. Messi, meanwhile, was on target for Barcelona in 2009, 2011 and 2015.

Bale also became the third player to register a hat-trick at the tournament, Ronaldo and Barcelona's Luis Suarez the other players to do so.

Ahead of the final against Al Ain, Bale is just one goal shy of Ronaldo's all-time record tally of seven in the competition, despite having made just five Club World Cup appearances in his career.

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