The veteran finds something special to beat Belarus in Russia in Group E. Their dreams of qualifying for Qatar 2022 are still alive, whilst Belarus’ fall by the wayside.
Wales made a great start in Kazan, as the 1st of two Bale penalties gave them an early lead, but then they conceded twice in 2 horrendous first-half minutes, as goals from Vitali Lisakovich and Pavel Sedko put Belarus in front. Lisakovich scored from the spot after Chris Gunter was penalised for a high foot before Sedko punished some hopeless defending from Wales, who were lucky not to be further behind at the break.
Bale scored his 2nd penalty to bring Wales level after 69 minutes and, in the 3rd of 4 minutes of injury time, the captain came to his country’s rescue with a low shot that went under Belarus goalkeeper Sergei Chernik and into the net.
After defeat in their opening match of the campaign to group leaders Belgium, Wales needed to win this game. A draw would not be good enough. Only the group winners qualify automatically and Group E leaders Belgium, ranked number 1 in the world and unbeaten in their 4 matches so far, remain massive favourites ahead of the 2nd-placed Czech Republic, and Wales, who sit 3rd with a game in hand.
Robert Page’s side have another 5 games to catch their rivals. They begin against Estonia in Cardiff on Wednesday but, even this early in qualifying, the play-offs look like their likeliest route to a 1st World Cup appearance since 1958. When they were drawn in such a challenging group, that was the most people expected of Wales, but after this great escape against a Belarusian ranked 89th in the world, they still have a slim, mathematical chance of catching Belgium, if they slip up!