Gareth Bale marked his FIFA World Cup debut with a goal for Wales as they played out an entertaining 1-1 draw against the USA in their Group B meeting. Both sides cancelled out each other in the match to produce the first draw of the tournament.
With both sides returning to the Mundial after varying lengths of time, it promised to be an interesting match when Wales faced USA. Wales had not played in the FIFA World Cup since 1958, while the USA had last played in 2014. Only one member of the USMNT from the 2014 World Cup was named in the squad.
The USA dominated proceedings early on, forcing Wales into a retreat. They came close to opening the scoring on a number of occasions, with Timothy Weah, son of George Weah, forcing Danny Ward into a smart save before Josh Sargent struck the upright from a tight angle.
It took some time, but the USA brilliantly found the net in the 36th minute. A counter-attack led to Chelsea star Christian Pulisic receiving the ball in Wales’ half before playing an inch-perfect pass for Weah to latch onto the ball before arrogantly flicking his effort under the onrushing Ward with the outside of his right boot.
Wales were struggling badly against the USA and it was evident as they failed to create any openings or test goalkeeper Matt Turner in the USA goal. They reached half-time with a laboured performance and coach Rob Page was quick to act, sending on giant striker Kieffer Moore for the second half.
Page’s decision worked like magic as Moore was heavily involved in the game from the moment he stepped onto the pitch. The striker was instrumental as Wales almost nicked an equaliser. A corner kick from Harry Wilson was headed on by the Bournemouth striker for Ben Davies to fly onto with his head, but Turner showed impressive reflexes to parry the effort over the crossbar.
With time running out, Wales were handed a lifeline following urgent play by substitute Brennan Johnson. The forward took a quick throw-in that allowed Aaron Ramsey to get in behind and pull back a cross towards the edge of the box. Bale got there first and touched the ball, while USA defender Walker Zimmerman clattered into him. Without thinking twice, the referee pointed to the spot, awarding Wales a penalty.
Captain Gareth Bale dusted himself off and arrowed an effort into the far corner of the net in the 82nd minute, sending all of Wales into raptures.
Wales held on to come away from the game with a point which could well have been three given their second-half performance. The USA will look to kill off games when they get the chance in their two group games still to come. England sit comfortably atop group B after their win, with Iran at the bottom of the pile.