Gareth Bale admitted he has the ability to score in the finals after becoming the first player to score in both the Champions League and MLS Cup finals as he helped LAFC win the Major League Soccer title for the first time on Saturday.
LAFC beat the Philadelphia Union 3-0 on penalties before Bale scored a dramatic equalizer in the 128th minute in a thrilling final at the Bank of California Stadium in Los Angeles.
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The Wales star’s goal was the latest in MLS history to tie the game 3-3 after LAFC led twice before going down to 10 men in extra time and then falling behind four minutes into stoppage time.
It was Bale’s sixth goal in a major final. Three of them reached the Champions League final — one against Atletico Madrid in 2014 and two including a spectacular brace against Liverpool in 2018. He also scored the winner against Barcelona in the 2014 Copa del Rey final before helping Madrid to victory. Club World Cup final that year.
“It’s always nice to score in the final and I look like I have the ability to do that,” Bale said.
“It’s huge. It’s important for the club, it’s important for the fans. We were down to 10 men and of course we weren’t going to get anything out of the game. So to push on, keep fighting and, like I said, get the goal and It feels good to help the team. I’m not too sure where it ranks, but it’s a great feeling.
Bale joined LAFC on a free transfer after eight years at Real Madrid, which ended this summer.
But the fitness problems that marred his last season in the Spanish capital continued after his arrival in LA, limiting him to two starts as LAFC won the Supporters’ Shield.
When he came off the bench in the seventh minute of extra time on Saturday, it was Bale’s first game.
“It’s a difficult transition coming in with no pre-season,” Bale admitted. “Trying to catch up, it was tough, obviously moving back in with my family.
“But I tried to stay as fit as I could, try to help the team as much as I could on and off the field, and when you have moments like today, it’s all worth it. The most important thing was to win the goal. The MLS Cup final and we managed to do it. .
The 33-year-old warned he is still not 100 per cent fit after a recent knock and admitted he was concerned about his condition two weeks before leading Wales to their first World Cup since 1958.
“I feel better and better as time goes on,” he said. “I think it’s difficult to bring mentally to the World Cup. You see a lot of players quitting and they have now lost the World Cup.
“Obviously it’s in the back of my mind and I’m trying to make sure I’m 100% fit.”
Wales’ first match at the World Cup will coincidentally come on November 21 against the United States. And LAFC coach Steve Cherundolo, who won 87 caps for the United States, joked that he hoped the same effect would not occur against Bale. Americans.
“I’m sure he won’t, but I’ll try,” Bale replied.