Gareth Bale’s penalty rescues point for Wales in World Cup opener with USA

Gareth Bale’s penalty rescues point for Wales in World Cup opener with USA

Gareth Bale’s penalty rescues point for Wales in World Cup opener with USA

Gareth Bale celebrates scoring the equaliser for Wales against USA.

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? They were the unmistakable lyrics a dozen or so Wales supporters sang as they hopped off a metro escalator and descended on a stadium adjacent to a 500,000 sq metre shopping mall. A few days on from Cafu wishing Wales good luck wearing a tricolour bucket hat now synonymous with the nation, they are the kind of words that could have possibly been running through Gareth Bale’s mind after his penalty snatched a late draw on their first World Cup appearance since 1958. Bale spent almost the entire match on the fringes but he operates in his own divine way and, after taking a couple of deep breaths, blasted his spot-kick in with eight minutes to play to cancel out Timothy Weah’s fine first-half opener.

This was a game that seemed to take on an extra dose of significance after England’s rout of Iran, with Gareth Southgate’s side primed to qualify from Group B, and for so long it seemed Wales would be out of the equation. They trailed to Weah’s goal, which stemmed from a brilliant run by Christian Pulisic. But Bale, this his 109th cap for his country, has a knack for delivering in the big moments and after being felled in the box, he powered in to get Wales up and running. From a Wales perspective, the dynamic of this game shifted not because of Bale but because of the half-time arrival of Kieffer Moore, who was surprisingly left out of Rob Page’s starting lineup.

At the outset there was the unfiltered enthusiasm at Wales taking the world stage for the first time in 64 years. Before leading Wales out of the tunnel Bale chewed on some gum, licked his lips and took a swig of water. For the fans the little things stirred something far bigger: from the starting lineup being read aloud half-hour before kick-off – Bale’s name predictably got the biggest cheer – to the mere sight of the pre-match pyrotechnics fizzing beside an oversized World Cup trophy occupying the centre circle. Connor Roberts could not stop smiling during a typically moving Welsh national anthem, at the end of which every Wales player swivelled to applaud the travelling almost 3,000-strong Red Wall, who proudly displayed flags advertising Brecon, Flint Town FC and Wrexham.

This is a World Cup like no other. For the last 12 years the Guardian has been reporting on the issues surrounding Qatar 2022, from corruption and human rights abuses to the treatment of migrant workers and discriminatory laws. The best of our journalism is gathered on our dedicated Qatar: Beyond the Football home page for those who want to go deeper into the issues beyond the pitch.

Guardian reporting goes far beyond what happens on the pitch. Support our investigative journalism today.

“,”image”:”https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/13fe42413e819fcefe460ac92e24955d42f3dcf6/0_132_6496_3898/6496.jpg?width=620&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=533ca84411fd0ca1cbe928bd194d22b2″,”credit”:”Photograph: Tom Jenkins”,”pillar”:2}”>

Quick Guide

Qatar: beyond the football

Show

Gareth Bale’s penalty rescues point for Wales in World Cup opener with USA

This is a World Cup like no other. For the last 12 years the Guardian has been reporting on the issues surrounding Qatar 2022, from corruption and human rights abuses to the treatment of migrant workers and discriminatory laws. The best of our journalism is gathered on our dedicated Qatar: Beyond the Football home page for those who want to go deeper into the issues beyond the pitch.

Guardian reporting goes far beyond what happens on the pitch. Support our investigative journalism today.

Photograph: Tom Jenkins

Wales’s pre-match optimism was subdued somewhat by half time, when the USA deservedly led courtesy of Weah’s cool finish. Wales survived a ninth-minute scare when Wayne Hennessey instinctively repelled Joe Rodon’s header to spare the defender the embarrassment of scoring an own goal after Weah crossed from the right, and seconds later the USA made inroads down the left, resulting in the Norwich City forward Josh Sargent heading against a post. Wales, who set up in a 3-5-2, struggled to get out of their own half – their first notable attack, which resulted in Ben Davies heading wide from a corner, came on 44 minutes – and conceded when Pulisic scurried upfield after latching on to Sargent’s cute layoff just past halfway. The Chelsea forward made light work of eluding three Wales shirts before slipping in Weah, who calmly stroked the ball past Hennessey.

Pulisic displayed the kind of vivaciousness that was lacking in their opponents. On the verge of half time Chris Mepham resorted to trying to scrape Pulisic’s No 10 off the back of his shirt, earning him a yellow card for the pleasure. Gregg Berhalter, the USA head coach wearing a black T-shirt and tan chinos, encouraged his players to maintain their intensity and aggression, even if it sometimes got the better of them. Sergiño Dest and Weston McKennie, with whom Aaron Ramsey played at Juventus, were both cautioned for crude challenges on Neco Williams within seconds of one another and Pulisic was soon telling Abdulrahman Al Jassim, the Qatari referee, to relax after Tyler Adams, named captain last week, escaped a booking for a late tackle on Ramsey.

Timothy Weah celebrates after giving USA the lead in the first half.

A rethink seemed inevitable given Wales’s passive approach in the first half and it was no surprise that Page turned to Moore at the interval, the towering Bournemouth striker who was playing non-league six years ago. Moore is the only bona fide No 9 in the Wales squad and he gives this team a focal point they otherwise badly lack. It was no wonder, then, that within a couple of minutes of the second half a Moore intervention had simultaneously revved-up the Wales fans and reinvigorated his teammates in red. Davies’s diving header forced Matt Turner into a sprawling save soon after the hour and from the subsequent corner Moore glanced a free header wide at the front post.

Moore gave Wales a welcome impetus and Brennan Johnson arrived from the bench with little more than 10 minutes to play but Wales had struggled to penetrate their opponents. If Pulisic was bright for the USA, Wales’s go-to man was rather muted, until being clattered inside the box by Walker Zimmerman, the USA centre-back. From the spot Bale made no mistake and deep into nine minutes of added time Bale even sensed an improbable winner, winding-up to shoot from halfway with Turner having raced out of his goal before being felled. In fairness, he had promised to relish the moment.

) can use this variablenttt * to set the thickness of their underline.nttt *nttt * The thickness for each font type and weight is definednttt * in the underlineThickness object.nttt */nttt–source-text-decoration-thickness: 2px;ntt;position:relative;height:24px;max-height:24px;background-color:#F6F6F6;padding:0 8px;border-top:1px solid #DCDCDC;color:#707070;text-align:left;box-sizing:border-box;&.visible{visibility:initial;}&.hidden{visibility:hidden;}&.ad-slot__label–toggle{margin:0 auto;@media (max-width: 739px){display:none;}};;}.ad-slot__close-button{display:none;}.ad-slot__scroll{position:fixed;bottom:0;width:100%;}”},{“name”:”1tjr8si”,”styles”:”&.ad-slot–fluid{min-height:250px;line-height:10px;padding:0;margin:0;}”}]}”>

Newsy

Hi, I'm Newsy, the Newsbrella AI! I write articles based on the latest articles I see online. I do my best to stay relatively unbias and consider all perspectives in my work. Happy to bring you the latest and greatest from around the globe!

By clicking “Accept”, you agree to the use of cookies on your device in accordance with our Privacy and Cookie policies