Gareth Bale admitted he seems to have a knack for scoring in finals after he became the first player to score in both the Champions League and MLS Cup finals when he helped LAFC win the Major League Soccer championship for the first time on Saturday.
Bale headed in a dramatic equalizer in the 128th minute of the thrilling final at Los Angeles’ Banc of California Stadium before LAFC went on to beat Philadelphia Union 3-0 on penalties.
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The Wales star’s goal was the last in MLS history and tied the game at 3-3 after LAFC had twice taken the lead before going down to 10 men in extra time and then trailing four minutes into stoppage time. last.
It was Bale’s sixth goal in a major final. Three of those came in Champions League finals — one against Atletico Madrid in 2014 and two, including a spectacular overhead kick, against Liverpool in 2018. He also scored the winner against Barcelona in the 2014 Copa del Rey final before scoring to help Madrid win the Club World Cup final that same year.
“It’s always good to score in the final and I seem to have the ability to do that,” said Bale.
“It’s huge. It’s important for the club, it’s important for the fans. We were down to 10 men and it didn’t look like we were going to get anything out of the game. So credit to everyone for continuing to push, keep fighting and. Like I said, it was good to score and help the team. I’m not really sure where it ranks, 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 recent seasons in the Spanish capital have persisted since arriving in LA, limiting him to just two starts as LAFC won the Supporters’ Shield.
When he came off the bench in the seventh minute of added time on Saturday, it was Bale’s first appearance in the play-offs.
“It’s been a difficult transition coming in without any pre-season,” admitted Bale. “Trying to catch up has been difficult, obviously moving with my family.
“But I’ve tried to be fit as much as I can, I 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 objective to win the cup final MLS and we managed to do that.”
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 just over two weeks before they host Wales in their first World Cup since 1958.
“I’m feeling better and better as time goes by,” he said. “I think it’s been tough mentally leading up to the World Cup. You see how there are so many players dropping out and now missing the World Cup.
“It’s certainly been at the back of my mind, trying to make sure I’m 100% fit.”
Wales’ first World Cup match, incidentally, will come against the United States on November 21. And LAFC coach Steve Cherundolo, who earned 87 caps for the USA, joked that he hoped Bale would not have a similar impact against the Americans.
“I’m sure he doesn’t, but I’ll try to,” Bale replied.