Gareth Bale saves Wales to frustrate USMNT at Qatar 2022


There was frustration for the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) in its opening game of Qatar 2022 as Gareth Bale scored a late penalty for Wales.

The USMNT was dominant for much of the match, but as has so often been the case, it was LAFC star Bale who dug Wales out of a sticky situation as this Group B game ended 1-1.

The 22-year-old Timothy Weah, son of soccer great George Weah, had put the US ahead in the first-half with a fine finish but this young US side – with an average age of 25 years and 175 days – was unable to maintain its dominance and allowed Wales to snatch a draw.

There was no shortage of American fans inside the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on Monday and they made their voices heard, exchanging songs with the Welsh contingent behind the opposite goal.

The familiar “U-S-A” chants reverberated around the venue on what was a welcome cool night in Doha. For much of the match, it looked as though those fans would be celebrating a much deserved win.

But just as all hope looked to have disappeared for Wales, Bale was clumsily brought down by Walker Zimmerman in the US box.

There was then no doubt as Bale stepped up to fire his spot-kick into the top corner of the net.

It sent the Welsh fans behind the goal into a frenzy and it was Bale’s name being sung the loudest at the final whistle.

“He has never let us down,” Wales manager Rob Paige said of Bale after the game.

Wales, playing in its first World Cup match since 1958, seemed to struggle with the occasion in the first half and even Bale had looked off the pace until his goal.

But the USMNT’s so-called ‘golden generation’ showed a touch of naivety.

The team has a real opportunity to shine in Qatar 2022 but will need to quickly learn the lessons from this match before facing a much sterner test against England on Friday.

A draw, for both teams, is not the end of the world and still leaves qualification into the knockout stages a real possibility.

More to follow…

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