Wales manager Rob Page heaps praise on Gareth Bale’s ‘wisdom’ and ‘intelligence’ after LAFC forward scores late penalty to secure a point for Wales against the USA in their first World Cup tie in 64 YEARS
- Rob Page proclaimed the way that Gareth Bale has adapted his football with age
- The Wales boss also heaped praise on Bale for the wisdom he brings the squad
- Bale, 33, scored an equaliser for Wales during their group game with the USA
- As a result, Wales ended their opening game of the World Cup with a 1-1 draw
- Click here for the latest World Cup 2022 news, fixtures, live action and results
Wales manager Rob Page proclaimed the way that Gareth Bale has adapted his football with age and brings the wisdom which secured the team a World Cup lifeline against the USA.
The team, playing in their first World Cup since 1958, experienced a ghastly first half before Kieffer Moore’s arrival transformed the game.
But it was Bale who won and converted a penalty, ten minutes from time, to stave off a defeat which would have left his nation in grave jeopardy.
Wales boss Rob Page proclaimed the way that Gareth Bale has adapted his football with age
‘We’ve evolved Gareth’s position,’ Page said. ‘He can still play wide, but I like to give him the freedom to come inside and play off a front man.
‘He’s good at finding those spaces. He’s a wise head. He used all of his wisdom in winning the penalty. He’s intelligent, he puts himself in those positions in the box, defenders commit themselves and, if they don’t get the timing right, it can be a foul.
‘He looks after himself, too. He manages himself. He manages himself through games. If he’d have gone full-tilt from the first whistle, he probably wouldn’t have lasted until half-time. But he’s very experienced and clever at managing his body.’
Bale scored an all-important equaliser for Wales during their group game with the USA
Bale (left) was awarded a penalty in the 82nd minute of the game after being taken out in the box by Walker Zimmerman of the USA (right)
Page implied – rightly – that it had been a mistake not to start the game with Moore, who was brought on in a reshuffle which saw Dan James removed.
‘I take responsibility for that,’ Page said. ‘Nothing against DJ at all. I thought the way the USA played in the past meant we could play through the middle and play beyond their front three.
‘We didn’t get any of the players on the ball and we were getting wave after wave of their attacks. Kieffer made a massive difference for us.
‘Lessons have been learned from today. It was important we didn’t lose the game. We have Brennan Johnson who came on and made the impact, as well as Kieffer. We have strength in depth and more options on the bench.’
Page, who asked a tired Bale if he was able to continue, 20 minutes from time, said: ‘Once again it’s all about Bale. A million percent. He’s never let us down.’
The Wales boss (L) also heaped praise on Bale (R) for the wisdom he brings the squad
As a result of Bale’s goal, Wales ended their opening game of the World Cup with a 1-1 draw
Bale implied that Page’s half-time team-talk had been rousing and the manager suggested that he expects a higher level of commitment on the field when they face Iran on Friday.
‘We just needed to be braver on the ball,’ Page said. ‘I’m not sure if it was the occasion. First game nerves. When you have Aaron Ramsey, Harry Wilson, Ethan Ampadu, you want them on the ball. I wanted them to be braver on the ball.’
Bale, named man-of-the-match, said: ‘The goal was exactly what we needed. It didn’t matter who scored it and it gave us a foothold to try and go and win it. I felt that we played very well in the second-half. It was great to get the goal but the most important thing was that the team scored.’
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