USA 1 – 1 Wales

USA 1 – 1 Wales

Gareth Bale’s late penalty gave Wales a 1-1 draw with the USA in their 2022 World Cup opener in Qatar.

The Welsh looked destined for defeat in their first appearance in the tournament in 64 years after Timothy Weah opened the scoring in the first half.

But their talisman Bale won and scored the penalty that gave them a precious point in Group B.

They then play Iran on Friday morning, while the US take on Group B leaders England in the evening on the same day – after Gareth Southgate’s side won 6-2 earlier on Monday.

Great moments in the game…

  • 9 min: Wayne Hennessey makes a reaction save to keep out his own teammate Joe Rodon, before Josh Sargent then hits the post with a header.
  • 36 min: Christian Pulisic slides a perfectly weighted pass in the path of Timothy Weah, who jabbed the ball past Hennessey for the US opener.
  • 65 min: Glorious chance for Kieffer Moore from a corner which the substitute heads just over the crossbar.
  • 82 min: Gareth Bale scores from the penalty spot after being tripped in the box by Walker Zimmerman.

Disappointed again for Wales

It was the USA who dominated the early stages and could have taken the lead after nine minutes when Joe Rodon’s inadvertent own-goal header was blocked by Wayne Hennessey before Josh Sargent nodded against the post shortly afterwards.

The breakthrough came in the 36th minute when Christian Pulisic found space to slip in a pass behind Weah, who cleverly flicked the ball past Hennessey into the bottom corner.

Timothy Weah's smart finish put USA ahead
Image:
Timothy Weah’s smart finish put USA ahead

Wales were overwhelmed in the first half and in response manager Rob Page brought in Kieffer Moore for the ineffective Dan James at half time.

The Bournemouth forward should have leveled for Wales in the 65th minute, when he got up from a corner at the near post, but somehow headed over with the net at his mercy.

Player Ratings

UNITED STATES: Turner (6), Dest (6), Zimmerman (7), Ream (7), Robinson (8), McKennie (7), Adams (6), Musah (6), Weah (7), Sargent (6), Pulisic (8).

Subs: Aaronson (6), Yedlin (6), Wright (5), Acosta (6), Morris (n/a).

Wales: Hennessey (6), Davies (7), Rodon (8), Mepham (8), Williams (7), Ampadu (9), Ramsey (6), Roberts (6), Wilson (6), James (5), Bale (7).

Subs: Moore (8), Johnson (6), Thomas (n/a), Morrell (n/a).

Man of the match: Ethan Ampadu

The equalizer was found with eight minutes to go. Bale came in ahead of Walker Zimmerman in the box only to be tripped to win a penalty, before stepping up himself to hurtle the ball past Matt Turner.

‘All About Bale’

Wales' Gareth Bale reacts after scoring a goal against the United States
Image:
Gareth Bale from Wales reacts after a goal

“He’s never let us down,” said Wales manager Rob Page ITV. “Once again it’s all about Bale and rightly so.”

He always makes the difference for his country. It had actually been a quiet performance from Bale until he provided the decisive moment late in the second half.

A 41st goal for his country, a first for Wales at the World Cup in 64 years. He would always make the difference.

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Wales manager Rob Page praised his side for scoring a ‘important’ late point in their World Cup opener against the USA.

“We’ve been talking about Bale all day and it’s always about moments for this player,” said Roy Keane ITV.

“He’s written in the stars when he leaves for Wales, and it was a great finish.”

He has been the leader of his country for so long, but he doesn’t seem to feel the pressure or burden of responsibility. In fact, he enjoys it.

“There were no doubts in my mind [I was going to take the penalty]Bale said ITV. “I have to leave and I’m happy to do that.”

At his post-match press conference, Page praised Bale’s ability to use his experience to win key moments for his country.

“We developed Gareth’s position,” he said. “He can still play wide, of course he can, but I like to give him the freedom to come in and play a frontman. He’s very good at finding those spaces, he’s intelligent, he’s got a wise head, so he puts himself down.” in those positions in the penalty area to get us a penalty.

“Defenders commit to making tackles and if you don’t get the timing right in the penalty area it’s inevitable a penalty. I think he used all his wisdom there.”

Page: Moore vital in the second half

Wales manager Rob Page:

A crucial turning point in the game came at half-time when Wales boss Page replaced James with striker Moore. It helped his side move further up the field and turn the game in their favour.

“It was nothing against Dan James at all,” Page told ITV. “It suited Kieffer to get us on the pitch, we just couldn’t get through [their press]. So that little tweak to play over it made a big difference.

“Going behind a goal against a very good team in the US is comparable to the game in Switzerland in the European Championship for us. We showed character and determination to come back and get a point out of the game.

“It’s important at the start of the tournament that you don’t lose the game. Compliments to the guys for the effort they put in to get us that point.”

What does the result mean…

The result leaves both sides behind England in Group B after earning all three points against Iran on Monday afternoon.

Analysis: Wales show fight on big night

Wales' Gareth Bale celebrates with Ethan Ampadu, right, after scoring vs United States
Image:
Wales’ Gareth Bale celebrates with Ethan Ampadu, right, after scoring vs United States

Adam Bate from Sky Sports:

Wales is still there. For three quarters of an hour the fear was that they would not even arrive. But a spirited performance in the second half made this an evening to remember. Kieffer Moore’s introduction turned the game around. Gareth Bale’s goal saved his country again.

In the context of Welsh football history, this was huge. A first World Cup match in 64 years. In the context of Group B at the 2022 World Cup, it was almost as big. Many felt this was the most important part. Losses and Wales may have had to beat Iran and England to progress.

Perhaps that explained the cautious approach in the first half. It was more likely that the pressing play of the United States prevented them from playing out. Daniel James has pace but couldn’t hold onto the ball so he kept coming back. The match was played in the Wales half.

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Geraint Hughes says Wales can build on a good point in their World Cup opener against USA.

Rob Page may have miscalculated in thinking this was a game that required speed on the counterattack rather than the more robust Moore’s heist game. To his credit, the Wales boss did not delay and made the substitution at half-time.

Within minutes of the restart, Moore’s importance was clear, protecting possession, giving bodies time to join him on the attack. It wasn’t particularly pretty, but it was effective as Harry Wilson swung balls into the box. Finally there was a threat.

It was fitting that the equalizer was conjured by Bale with help from Aaron Ramsey. There is so much confidence in the pair that turns it on in Qatar. Ramsey has started just three of Nice’s last 15 games. Bale has started just three club games in 15 months.

But some players are just special. They seem to find the moments. Ramsey made the run from a quick throw-in and Bale was alert enough to place himself between ball and defender. With the red wall watching from behind the goal, it felt inevitable that the penalty would go in.

“They played well and we played badly, but the bluff changed a few things and the lads came out as we always do,” Bale said afterwards. That’s what the fans wanted to see. The spirit of 1958 is alive in 2022. Wales is still here.

What else happened at the World Cup on Monday?

earlier in the day, England started their Group B campaign with a thumping 6-2 victory over Iranwith Bukayo Saka scoring twice.

The Netherlands scored two late goals to win 2–0 Senegal and join Ecuador at the top of Group A.

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