Of course it was him.
Wales captain Gareth Bale sunk the US men’s national team’s hearts in Monday’s Group B opener, scoring an equalizing penalty kick in the 82nd minute to salvage a 1-1 draw at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium.
The LAFC star forward, who became the first MLS player to score on the USMNT at a World Cup, beat goalkeeper Matt Turner from the spot, scoring his country’s first World Cup goal in 64 years to earn a crucial point. The ex-New England Revolution shot-stopper got a hand to it, but Bale’s high-and-right effort was too powerful.
The chance arose after USMNT center back Walker Zimmerman fouled Bale in the box, setting up Wales’ best chance as full-time loomed. The Nashville SC defender lunged into a challenge from behind.
Bale is Wales’ all-time leading scorer with 41 goals in 109 caps. He signed with LAFC in June after leaving Real Madrid, then scored a legendary equalizing header deep in MLS Cup 2022 that helped the Black & Gold raise silverware over the Philadelphia Union – in addition to their Supporters’ Shield-winning season.
The 33-year-old is under contract with LAFC through next summer, with options through 2024.
With a point apiece, both the USMNT and Wales sit behind group leaders England after their 6-2 trouncing of Iran earlier Monday.
On Friday, the matchups are USA-England and Wales-Iran, setting the stage for an all-decisive third matchday that’ll dictate which two teams reach the knockout stages.