Gareth Bale admitted he seems to have a knack for scoring in 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.
Bale scored a dramatic equalizer in the 128th minute in a thrilling final at the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles before LAFC beat the Philadelphia Union 3-0 on penalties.
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The Wales star’s goal was the latest in MLS history and tied the game at 3-3 after LAFC had twice led before going to 10 men in overtime and then trailing 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 stunning header, against Liverpool in 2018. He also scored the winner against Barcelona in the 2014 Copa del Rey final before scoring and helped Madrid win. the same year in the club’s World Cup final.
“It’s always nice to score in a final and I seem to have the knack of doing it,” Bale said.
“It’s big. It’s important for the club, it’s important for the fans. We were down to 10 men and we didn’t really seem to get anything out of the game. So thanks to everyone who keeps pushing, keeps fighting and, like I said, it was nice to get a goal and help the team . I’m not really sure where it’s going to sit, but it’s a great feeling.”
Bale joined LAFC on a free transfer after his eight-year spell at Real Madrid ended this summer.
But the fitness issues that plagued his final seasons in the Spanish capital have persisted since arriving in Los Angeles, limiting him to just 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 appearance in the playoffs.
“It’s been a difficult transition without pre-season,” Bale admitted. “Trying to catch up, it’s been tough, obviously moving with my family.
“But I’ve tried to stay as fit as possible, try to help the team as much as I can on and off the pitch, and it’s worth it when you have moments like today. The most important thing was the goal to win. In the MLS Cup final and we did it.”
The 33-year-old warned he is still not 100 per cent fit after a recent knock and admitted he has been concerned about his condition just over two weeks before he is due to lead Wales to their first World Cup since 1958.
“I feel better and better as time goes on,” he said. “I think it’s been mentally tough leading up to the World Cup. You see how many players get dropped and now they don’t make it to the World Cup.
“It’s definitely been on my mind trying to make sure I’m 100% fit.”
Coincidentally, Wales’ first World Cup match will be against the United States on the 21st. November. And LAFC coach Steve Cherundolo, who won 87 caps for the USA, joked that he hoped Bale would not make a similar impact. Americans.
“I’m sure he won’t, but I’ll try,” Bale replied.