Wales coach Rob Page said it was “all about (Gareth) Bale again” after he scored a late penalty to salvage a 1-1 draw against the United States at the World Cup on Monday.
Bale, Wales’ all-time top scorer, crashed home an 82nd-minute spot-kick to earn his side a point in their first World Cup game since 1958.
Asked if Bale was going to take the penalty he won after a foul by Walker Zimmerman, Page told ITV: “A million percent. He’s never let us down. Once again it’s all about Bale.”
Bale was making his first start for club or country since late September, but Page had no doubts over his captain’s ability to deliver on the biggest stage.
“Irrespective of what he does at club level, he manages to put the jersey on for Wales and does things that surprise people,” said Page.
Wales fell behind to Tim Weah’s fine first-half strike and looked to be heading for defeat before Bale was brought down inside the area by defender Zimmerman.
“It’s an amazing feeling to get off the mark personally, but we would much rather have had the three points,” Bale told ITV.
“It was a great team performance, especially in the second half when we showed that real grit and determination to get back into the game.
“We are proud of that. We have things to build on and things to work on.”
Wales face Iran on Friday before playing neighbours England in their final Group B match on November 29.
“We said coming in we didn’t want to lose the first game. We didn’t have to win it but it was important we didn’t lose. It’s a really important point for us,” said Page.
USA coach Gregg Berhalter said Bale’s equaliser was a tough pill to swallow for his young side.
“Walking into the locker room after the game you can see the collective disappointment. It didn’t look like a team playing in their first World Cup,” said Berhalter.
“In the end we got hurt by some direct play from Wales. I’m disappointed with the result but proud of the effort.”
Berhalter had no qualms about the penalty but felt the ball had gone out earlier in the move.
“I’m sure the ball went out. I’m positive the ball went out by a good margin also. I’m surprised it wasn’t called.”