Wales’ first appearance at the World Cup in 64 years didn’t end with a win, but with loud cheers nonetheless. Gareth Bale scores late from the penalty spot. The US goalscorer has an interesting CV.
Led by penalty goalscorer Gareth Bale, the weary Welshmen stepped out in front of their fans and celebrated for a draw in their first World Cup appearance in 64 years. Captain Bale had created a party atmosphere with a late goal from the point.
The star striker helped the Dragons to a 1:1 (0:1) against the USA. “I’m pretty happy, it couldn’t have gone better,” said the 33-year-old, who happily high-fived his teammates after the game. “The boys fought like lions,” said Bale.
The long-superior Americans took a 36th-minute lead at Al-Rajjan’s Ahmad bin Ali Stadium through Timothy Weah, son of former Liberian world footballer George Weah. Bale equalized in the 82nd minute with a converted penalty kick. The US boys couldn’t hide their disappointment at missing out on the win. “We have to keep our heads up and focus on the next game. We took a point and that’s good,” said captain Tyler Adams.
Intense, but not high-class game
43,418 spectators watched an intense but not top-class game in Group B of the World Cup in Qatar. With a moved expression, Bale listened to his country’s national anthem before the kick-off, loudly sung by the fans in red. The Welsh were in the 2016 European Championship semi-finals, but last played a World Cup tournament in 1958 when they failed in the quarter-finals at eventual title winners Brazil. The 33-year-old star striker and former Real Madrid professional knew his opponents only too well: he recently became US champions with his new club Los Angeles FC.
As a rather lonely attacker, Bale saw his back line get into trouble. Keeper Wayne Hennessy first had to fend off a header from his own frontman Joe Rodon, then ex-Bremer Josh Sargent hit the outside of the post. The Norwich City professional stormed together with Weah and ex-Dortmunder Christian Pulisic from Chelsea.
The team of US coach Gregg Beerhalter, once captain at Energie Cottbus and 1860 Munich, was more energetic in its search for the way forward. Ex-Schalke player Weston McKennie not only attracted attention because of the American national colors in his hair, but also because of his hard approach.
The Americans seemed livelier
Welsh coach Rob Page called up six defensive players – Bale and Co. hardly played anything on offense in the first half. On the other side, the ever more revving up Pulisic put Weah in position with a wonderful through ball: The 22-year-old shot the ball past Hennessy to take the lead.
The US selection, this time led by former Leipzig player Tyler Adams as captain, missed the 2018 World Cup in Russia. On their return to the international stage with 25 World Cup debuts, the Americans simply seemed more agile and lively than their opponents, but rarely found gaps in Wales’ back five. Giovanni Reyna from Borussia Dortmund hoped in vain to get a chance as a substitute.
The Bale team then shifted the game more and more often into the opposing half: After Ben Davies and Kieffer Moore headed the Wales supporters behind the US goal half raised their arms to celebrate, but the ball only went in when Bale converted the penalty he was guilty of.