Wales 2-1 Austria: Player ratings & man of the match as Gareth Bale puts Dragons on the cusp of the World Cup
Wales’ greatest export delivered the goods again on home soil again as Bale’s brace defeats the Austrians
Wales are ninety minutes away from a first World Cup in 64 years after they beat Austria 2-1 to progress to the Play-Off final.
Gareth Bale’s exquisite free-kick in the first-half, as well as a quick-thinking finish in the second half was the difference at the Cardiff City Stadium, as he delivered for his country again. Marcel Sabitzer pulled a goal back for Das Team but Wales were able to hold out.
Austria had the most testing chance in the early knockings as a pass cut through the defence but with just Wayne Hennessey to beat, Christoph Baumgartner curled his effort shot onto the crossbar.
They were made to pay for that missed opportunity as Wales took the lead through their trusted talisman. Bale, positioned 25-yards away from goal, scored with a free-kick from the top draw, clipping the underside of the cross-bar to leave Henz Lindner flat footed.
A much-needed second goal came for Wales to reduce the pressure and it was Bale again. A low corner found the feet of Bale and the Madrid outcast was able to turn it home.
Down but not out, the Austrians pulled a goal back with Marcel Sabitzer. The Bayern Munich’s midfielder struck from outside the box, taking a long deflection off of Ben Davies that flat footed Wayne Hennessey.
There were a few opportunities for Dan James to restore the two goal cushion but he was unable to make the most of the chances carved from counter attacks.
Austria could not mount enough to yield a second goal and ultimately fell to defeat with Brennan Johnson’s shot the last action of the game before Syzmon Marchinak blew for the final whistle with ecstacy following from the home fans.
Gareth Bale: Big game Bale at it again. His first goal for Wales came 15-years ago and that was a free-kick, so how fitting that he score another crucial goal in the same kind of manner. He has barely played since September but still comes up with the goods when it comes to his country.
Joe Rodon: An assured performance from the Tottenham Hotspur defender who has given Antonio Conte food for fought for his performance.
Christoph Baumgartner: Conceded a free-kick in an area that Wales could always trouble from. Also spurned an early chance from a good position which could have changed the complexion of the match.
David Alaba: Both captains tonight came from Real Madrid and it was the Austrian who was the most match fit, given his prominent role for his club isde this year. Despite that, he failed to inspire his side to something. A free-kick in a closer area to Bale was hit into the wall.
Dan James: Wales may have been out of sight had the Leeds United man made the most of the opportunities created for him on the counter attack. Him not putting his chances away is the difference between a quality player and a world class player.