Gareth Bale happy to step up when Wales needed him with penalty in USA draw

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Gareth Bale was only too happy to step up when Wales needed him after his penalty secured a 1-1 draw with the United States in their World Cup opener.

Wales were trailing to Timothy Weah’s first-half goal when Tim Ream upended Bale in the area with eight minutes left.

The 33-year-old, making his World Cup debut, crashed home the spot-kick to earn a battling point.

It was a deserved draw for Robert Page’s side, who were poor in the first half but vastly-improved after the break.

Bale told ITV: “It was always going to be me. No doubts. I feel like I had to step up and I was happy to do so.

“In the first half they played well and we played poor. But the gaffer changed a few things around and the boys came out fighting like we always do. We showed character like we did at the Euros.

“From the second half our performance was fantastic so we will take a lot of confidence.

“I was a bit tired towards the end but we have to dig deep for our country, we always do.”

Boss Page admitted only one player was going to take the spot-kick.

“A million per cent,” he said. “He’s never let us down and once again it’s all about Baley.

“To see all the supporters enjoying it was incredible.”

Page’s introduction of Kieffer Moore at half-time changed the match, the striker giving Wales the attacking focal point they had been badly lacking.

“To go a goal behind against a very good team, we showed character and determination to come back and get a point,” he added.

“It’s important at the start of the tournament to not lose the game. Credit to the lads.”

Former Wales striker John Hartson, commentating for ITV, summed up Bale’s importance to Wales.

He said: “The man is a freak, the man is a genius. What he has done for this country is phenomenal.”

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