Real Madrid's unwanted December distraction, a trip to FIFA's World Club Cup as Champions League winners, will continue according to script despite a scare on Wednesday in the United Arab Emirates.
Cue Gareth Bale. Coming on the 80th minute, just seconds later he put Real Madrid 2-1 ahead with a low finish inside the box.
Eight minutes into the second half, Los Blancos were level through Ronaldo, who latched onto a fine pass from Modric before slotting into the bottom corner, 1-1.
CR7 didn't quite manage it - allowing Bale to claim the goal and regain his status as Real Madrid's big-match hero. "The result did not go our way, but that does not matter, this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we will never forget", said Al Jazira fan Ahmed Hamza.
Until then Madrid had lacked the same killer instinct as last season with Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema scoring a combined total of just six times in La Liga, while Gareth Bale has made just one brief appearance as a substitute since September.
"It is a very important tournament for us", the Portuguese forward said.
The UEFA Champions League winners managed to see out the closing stages with relative ease as they booked their spot in the final and are now on course to defend the title they won past year.
Madrid, twice winners of the mid-season money-spinner in years past, will face South American champions Gremio, from Porto Alegre in Brazil, in the final on Saturday.