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The Welsh celebrate Gareth Bale’s penalty to make it 1-1 against the USA. © Pan Yulong/XinHua/dpa

Wales’ first appearance at the World Cup in 64 years didn’t end with a win, but with loud cheers nonetheless. Gareth Bale scores late from the penalty spot. The US goalscorer has an interesting CV.

Al-Rajjan – Captain Gareth Bale got Wales in the party mood with a late penalty in their first World Cup appearance in 64 years. The star striker helped the Dragons to a 1:1 (0:1) against the USA.

The long-superior Americans took a 36th-minute lead at Al-Rajjan’s Ahmad bin Ali Stadium through Timothy Weah, son of former Liberian world footballer George Weah. Bale equalized from the point in the 82nd minute.

43,418 spectators watched an intense but not top-class game in Group B of the World Cup in Qatar. With a moved expression, Bale listened to his country’s national anthem before the kick-off, loudly sung by the fans in red. The Welsh were in the 2016 European Championship semi-finals, but last played a World Cup tournament in 1958 when they failed in the quarter-finals at eventual title winners Brazil. The 33-year-old star striker and former Real Madrid professional knew his opponents only too well: he recently became US champions with his new club Los Angeles FC.

Gareth Bale (M) from Wales is fouled by US player Walker Zimmerman (l) in the penalty area and is awarded a penalty. © Tom Weller/dpa

As a rather lonely attacker, Bale saw his back line get into trouble. Keeper Wayne Hennessy first had to fend off a header from his own frontman Joe Rodon, then ex-Bremen Josh Sargent hit the outside of the post. The Norwich City professional stormed together with Weah and ex-Dortmunder Christian Pulisic from Chelsea.

The team of US coach Gregg Beerhalter, once captain at Energie Cottbus and 1860 Munich, was more energetic in its search for the way forward. Ex-Schalke player Weston McKennie not only attracted attention because of the American national colors in his hair, but also because of his hard approach.

Welsh coach Rob Page called up six defensive players – Bale and Co. hardly played anything on offense in the first half. On the other side, the ever more revving up Pulisic put Weah in position with a wonderful through ball: The 22-year-old shot the ball past Hennessy to take the lead.

The US selection, this time led by former Leipzig player Tyler Adams as captain, missed the 2018 World Cup in Russia. On their return to the international stage with 25 World Cup debuts, the Americans simply looked more agile and lively than their opponents, but rarely found gaps in Wales’ five-man chain. Giovanni Reyna from Borussia Dortmund hoped in vain to get a chance as a substitute.

US leadership
Timothy Weah (l) from the USA celebrates his goal to win 1-0 against Wales. © Tom Weller/dpa

The Bale team then shifted the game more and more often into the opposing half: After Ben Davies and Kieffer Moore headed the Wales supporters behind the US goal half raised their arms to celebrate, but the ball only went in when Bale converted the penalty he was guilty of. dpa

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