Gareth Bale of Wales celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal with a penalty past United States’ Matt Turner during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between the USA and Wales at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on November 21, 2022 in Doha, Qatar | Image Credit: Getty Images
Wales’ all-time top scorer and talisman Gareth Bale scored a late penalty as the Welsh rallied in the second half to earn a 1-1 draw with the United States in a thrilling World Cup Group B clash in a magnificent Ahmad bin Ali Stadium on Monday.
It was the proverbial game of two halves as the US went into the break with a deserved 1-0 lead handed to them following a superb finish by Timothy Weah, the son of the former World Player of the Year and current president of Liberia that’s George.
But Wales’ tactical switch on the break to introduce target man forward Kieffer Moore changed the game and brought them back into the contest, allowing Bale to score an 82nd-minute penalty which he conceded after foul himself.
The match was played in a spectacular atmosphere. Forget the valleys, the Welsh fans were drowning out Al Rayyan but met their match with the usually vocal United States supporters, whose drums hardly stopped beating.
Wales were lucky not to be caught early as Weah’s cross deflected off a helpless Joe Rodon and hit Wayne Hennessey with the Wales goalkeeper unaware of it. Seconds later, Antonee Robinson headed wide with a good near-post chance.
The pattern of the first half was US possession and Wales trapped in their own half, unable to find an escape route without a recognized number nine to handle the ball.
Instead Bale and Dan James alternated through the middle with little fanfare and every time Wales cleared the ball it went straight back. The pressure finally dissipated after 36 minutes.
Christian Pulisic picked up the ball just inside the Welsh half and burst forward, saw Weah’s smart run and delivered a beautifully weighted pass which the winger finished well as he got his shot past Hennessey.
Wales manager Rob Page made the key change at halftime when he replaced the ineffective James with the tall and athletic Moore, who himself had been missing in the opening period. It was, suddenly, a different ball game.
Wales built the pressure at the other end and closed twice in quick succession. Ben Davies first forced a superb stop from goalkeeper Matt Turner before Moore headed the resulting corner with a chance he should have buried.
Wales’ pressure paid dividends as they won a penalty when Tim Ream, already on a yellow card for a cynical challenge earlier in the half, slotted past Bale, who made no mistake in spotting the shot he the ball wide of Turner.