Late Gareth Bale penalty secures draw for Wales in first World Cup finals game in 64 years

Late Gareth Bale penalty secures draw for Wales in first World Cup finals game in 64 years

Wales came from behind to draw 1-1 with the USA in their first World Cup finals since 1958.

The USA completely dominated the first half and took the lead in 36 minutes when Timothy Weah, son of footballing icon George Weah, scored from Christian Pulisic’s through-ball.

Pulisic drove through the middle of the park unopposed, before playing a wonderfully cute pass towards the intelligent run of Weah, who had drifted in from the right.

After Wales had been overwhelmed in the first half, manager Rob Page brought on Kieffer Moore for the ineffective Dan James at the break.

The match then took a dramatic turn late in the second half when Wales captain Gareth Bale scored a penalty in the 81st minute after being tripped by Walker Zimmerman in the box.

Wales’ Gareth Bale scores his side’s first goal past goalkeeper Matt Turner of the US

Following the match, Mr Page said: “To go a goal behind against a very good team, we showed character and determination to get a point out of the game. It’s important in a tournament that you don’t lose the opening game.

“This game suited Kieffer (Moore), to get us up the pitch. It was purely a tactical decision.

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“The medical team have got a bit of work to do. They’ve got a big job to get us ready for Friday.”

Mr Page added that penalty-scorer Bale has “never let us down”.

“Once again it’s about Bale-o and rightly so. To see the red wall there and all the supporters enjoying it, it’s incredible.”

Hundreds gathered at the Al Bidda Park in Doha to watch the Group B match, while fans back home flocked to venues across Wales after the 64-year wait.

Speaking ahead of the game, Bale said the squad were feeling the “buzz from back home”.

Earlier, England secured a comfortable 6-2 win against Iran to get their World Cup campaign up and running in Qatar, amid “carnage” off the pitch for some fans trying to enter the stadium.

Hundreds of fans trying to get into the Khalifa International Stadium were faced with delays after they found their ticket app only started working minutes before they reached the front of the queue.

Antonee Robinson of the United States flies over Wales' Ethan Ampadu during the match
US player Antonee Robinson flies over Wales’ Ethan Ampadu in the first half
Fans cheer ahead the World Cup, group B soccer match between the United States and Wales, at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in in Doha, Qatar, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Welsh fans cheer during the World Cup match at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Doha, Qatar

Fans said their tickets suddenly disappeared off the app, leaving them unable to get into the game.

Paul Corkrey, from the Wales Football Supporters’ Association (FSA), said: “At the moment we’re hearing a lot of problems with fans saying their tickets are disappearing off of their phones when they click on them, and after seeing what happened at the England game my phone has been going off constantly for hours with people worried about not getting in.”

Kieran Jones, also of the Wales FSA, said: “It’s been a mess so far. Fifa changed their mind on having the beer in the ground, and you know that’s one thing, but then look at what’s happened today.”

Wales next face Iran on Friday morning, while the USA take on Group B leaders England in the evening on the same day.