A late penalty, scored by Gareth Bale – Wales’ first World Cup goal in 64 years – earned his country a valuable point in their bid to escape Group B, after Tim Weah had given USA a well-deserved lead. The sides are, most likely, now involved in a goals race: who can score more against Iran, who can concede fewer against England.
USA dominated the first half, their extra man in midfield emphasising the differential in speed, athleticism and enterprise. Though they struggled to create chances – Wayne Hennessey’s only serious save came following a header by Joe Rodon, Wales’ centre-back – a goal looked inevitable, and when it came it was a beauty, Christian Pulisic scorching through midfield and sliding a pass in behind for Weah, who finished with calm precision.
Robert Page sent on Kieffer Moore for the second half, and his ability to run channels and hold the ball up allowed Wales to get a foothold in the game. Though they didn’t create many chances – Bale was anonymous until he wasn’t – on 80 minutes, Tim Ream went through the back of their talisman unnecessarily, and the penalty was despatched with the fury of the generations.
‘I have to take the responsibility’ – Bale never thought twice about taking penalty
6 HOURS AGO
TALKING POINT – Page got it wrong, he must now get it right
Robert Page has done a really good job since taking over from Ryan Giggs, but he got his starting XI badly wrong tonight, and was fortunate his side were still in the game at half-time, when he changed things.
It made some sort of sense to go for pace up front, but not when his team had no out-ball – and especially against a younger, faster stronger side, with an extra man in midfield.
It might be that, against Iran, Page opts to go with Kieffer Moore, who made such a difference when he came on. But they will present a different challenge, so Page must also be careful he doesn’t pick the side he should’ve picked tonight for that match. In that game, Wales should have no problem getting on the ball, so perhaps the smart choice would be Brennan Johnson, who looked lively when he came on and whose trickery might help create space against a side likely to sit back.
Gareth Bale of Wales scores their team’s first goal via a penalty during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between USA and Wales at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on November 21, 2022 in Doha, Qatar
Image credit: Getty Images
MAN OF THE MATCH – Kieffer Moore (Wales)
No player stood out in a game of low quality, but Moore’s arrival into it made a greater impact than anything else.
USA: Turner 6, Dest 6, Ream 5, Zimmerman 6, Robinson 6, Musah 6, Adams 5, McKennie 5, Sargent 5, Weah 6, Pulisic 6. Subs: Aaronson 6, Wright 6, Yedlin 6, Acosta 6, Morris 6.
WALES: Hennessey 6, Mepham 6, Rodon 6, Davies 6, Roberts 6, Ampadu 7, Ramsey 5, Williams 6, Wilson 5, Bale 6, James 5. Subs: Moore 7, Johnson 6, Thoas 6, Morrell 6.=
KEY MOMENTS10’ – HERE COME USA! Fed by Dest, Weah breaks down the right and slings over a decent cross; there’s no one there, but Rodon hasn’t checked and no one lets him know, so he nails a header that forces Hennessey into a smart reaction save. USA sustain the attack though, and when the ball comes back in from the other side, Sargent flicks a header just past the near post. Wales can’t get into this at all.
36’ – GOAL! USA 1-0 Wales (Weah): This is beautifully done! Sargent slips back to Pulisic roundabout halfway and he scorches through midfield then, when he slides a ball in behind, Weah sprints from out to in and Williams can’t catch up. So Hennessey comes out and Weah flicks adroitly past his outstretched leg, scoring the World Cup goal his old fella never managed!
64’ WILSON SWERVES IN A FINE BALL! And Zimmerman makes a fine header, running back towards his own goal. This begins some pinball, that ends with Davies powering a header that Turner turns over! Wales are coming!
65’ – IN COMES THE CORNER AND MOORE IS UP! He makes a great connection too – if anything, Clive, he’s headed it too well! – and the ball flies over the top!
80’ – PENALTY TO WALES! Johnson takes a quick throw, Roberts pokes into the box, and Ream ploughs through Bales’ legs to tackle! He does get the ball, but he has to interfere with the man to get at it, and though I’d not have complained had it not been given, Bale had his back to goal and was going nowhere, so he’s only got himself to blame! Here comes Bale…
82’ – GOAL! USA 1-1 Wales (Bale pen): Bale slams a rising effort high into the net and though Turner gets a finer to it – I think – the power is enough to take it in! Gareth Bale has scored Wales’ first World Cup goal in 64 years! What a moment!
KEY STATGareth Bale’s goal was Wales’ first in the World Cup for more than 64 years.
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