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

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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.

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

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Time was fast running out when Bale equalised eight minutes from the end, converting his 41st Wales goal from the penalty spot after Tim Ream went right through the back of him.

It was Wales’ first goal at a World Cup since Terry Medwin scored against Hungary in 1958 and keep them very much in the race for a last-16 place.

Wales' Gareth Bale scores his side's first goal past goalkeeper Matt Turner of the United States during 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/Themba Hadebe)
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Wales’ Gareth Bale scores his side’s first goal past goalkeeper Matt Turner of the US

Following the match, 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.

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

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.”

Antonee Robinson of the United States flies over Wales' Ethan Ampadu during the match
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US player Antonee Robinson flies over Wales’ Ethan Ampadu in the first half

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

The result leaves both sides trailing England in Group B, after they earned all three points against Iran on Monday afternoon.

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.

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

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

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