USA ties Wales as late Gareth Bale penalty saves the Welsh
It was a strong showing from the young U.S. team, but a Bale penalty in the 82nd minute cost them three points.
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The U.S.A. made its return to the World Cup stage after more than eight years, after failing to qualify for the 2018 campaign in Russia. They went up against a tough Wales side that is filled to the brim with a mix of young and veteran English Premier League players.
Led by captain and top goal scorer Gareth Bale — who is coming off a successful first season in the States with the Los Angeles Football Club that saw them win the MLS Cup — the 33-year old is looking to lead his country deep into the tournament after a successful Euro 2020 run, and his country’s first appearance in a World Cup since 1958, in what is possibly his last international tournament.
The U.S. has one of the youngest rosters in the 2022 tournament. Though young and inexperienced, this is arguably the most talented U.S. side ever put together for a World Cup campaign. Led by Captain America, Christian Pulisic, it is a team with class talents currently playing in Europe’s top-flight leagues in Weston McKennie, Sergiño Dest, Timothy Weah, and team captain Tyler Adams, the youngest U.S. captain in over 50 years.
It finished 1-1 at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Al-Rayyan, Qatar. It was a lightning first half for the Americans as they were tougher, quicker, and more creative than the Welsh. Defenders and the midfield beat the Welsh to first and second balls and their young forwards were able to keep position, and create opportunistic chances.
Their hard work paid off in the 36th minute when Pulisic on the run found a running Timothy Weah — son of former Ballon d’Or winner and current President of Liberia George Weah — in stride, who beat Welsh defender Neco Williams. Using the outside of his foot, it was a world class finish from the current Lille player as he slotted it past keeper Wayne Hennessey.
This would be their only shot on target of the game, out of three total shots.
The second half proved to be a tougher fight as Wales came out with energy and were a lot smarter on the ball and equaled the level of play compared to the first half. The Americans got more reckless with their tackling and accumulated some yellow cards in the process. Wales was also able to hold the Americans offense back and get some shots up of their own.
While the U.S. dominated possession throughout the game, whenever Wales did have the ball, they managed to do more with it. Wales generated seven total shots, with three on target. More importantly, they were able to pressure the Americans.
Throughout the second half, the feeling was that Wales had the chance to tie the game because of one man — Gareth Bale.
U.S. defender Walker Zimmerman gave him an opportunity after committing an unnecessary and ultimately costly tackle on Bale inside the box as he was facing away from the U.S. keeper.
There was no hesitation from Qatari referee Abdulrahman Al-Jassim as he pointed to the spot. Bale held onto the ball as no one but him would be the one to deliver the heroics for his country.
Bale in vintage form, on his left delivered a powerful strike to the right side of the net. Despite U.S. keeper Matt Turner getting a hand on it, Bale’s shot proved to be too strong to keep out and leveled the game 1-1.
The U.S. will be hard on themselves as they will have to settle for the one point, but Wales are extremely happy to have saved themselves from defeat in their first World Cup match in half a century.
Not all hope is lost for either side, but the U.S. will face a tough contest against their rivals from across the pond in England this Friday, Nov. 25. England beat Iran earlier today 6-2.
Bale’s Wales will look to take the three points against Iran on Friday to possibly take second place behind the Englishmen.