Wales boss Robert Page reveals how Gareth Bale ‘surprised’ him against USA

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Robert Page admitted Gareth Bale surprised him again after producing the moment that secured Wales a precious World Cup point in their first game of the tournament.

Bale won the late penalty which he converted forcefully as Wales, playing their first game in the final for 64 years, drew 1-1 with the United States.

In doing so, Bale – who missed a free-kick against Turkey at Euro 2020 – became the first Wales player to score at a World Cup since Terry Medwin in 1958.

But Page revealed he had checked on Bale to see if the Los Angeles FC striker could complete 90 minutes, with fitness issues surrounding him ahead of Qatar 2022.

“Gareth takes care of himself,” Page said. “Regardless of what he does at club level, every time he puts on this shirt for Wales he gives performances that amaze me.

“He certainly surprised me again. I said to him after about 75 minutes, ‘Are you okay to continue?’ He went, ‘Yes, I’m fine’.

“At the end of the match, he said: ‘That’s why I stayed, for the penalty’. He manages himself, he manages himself through games. If he had gone all out from the first shot whistle, he would probably have reached half-time.

Bale had played just 30 minutes of football for LAFC since finishing Wales’ Nations League game against Poland in September.

It was the first time he had played 90 minutes in over a year, and he said after LAFC’s MLS Cup final victory earlier this month that he was dealing with “a few little issues”. about his physical condition.

Page said: “We have evolved Gareth’s position. He can still play wide, but I like to give him the freedom to come inside and play against the leading man.

“He is very good at finding these spaces. He is intelligent, he has a wise head. So he puts himself in these positions in the area to be able to get us penalties.

“The defenders commit to making tackles in the box and it was a permanent penalty. He used all his wisdom there.

Page paid tribute to Nottingham Forest defender Neco Williams, who said after the United game on social media that his grandfather died on Sunday.

Williams dedicated the point to his grandfather and said he “made it through with the support of my teammates and my family.”

Page said: “Neco is a very talented footballer and I was very happy with him.

“He plays like a winger and is quite aggressive. I only took him off at the end because he was really tired and he hasn’t played many games lately.

“We changed shape to match the United States and have more attacking players on the court. Overall I was happy with our defensive form, even though we were way off in the first half.

“I wanted us to be more aggressive and press higher up the pitch. Neco is a big part of what we do. He gives us energy and he is very good from an attacking point of view.

Iran, beaten 6-2 by England in their first group game, will be Wales’ next opponents on Friday.

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By Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at