There was a powerful sense of synchronicity about Wales’ dramatic win over Belarus.
Gareth Bale was Wales’ saviour as soon as extra with a late winner in a qualifier. In opposition to lowly opponents. On a difficult pitch.
That was the story in Russia on Sunday, because it was in Andorra in 2014 when Wales began their Euro 2016 qualifying marketing campaign.
Their hopes of reaching a primary main match since 1958 seemed to be over on the first hurdle when Andorra, ranked 199th on this planet, took a shock lead by scoring their first aggressive purpose for 4 years.
Fortunately for Wales, Bale headed them degree after which, with 9 minutes remaining, he struck an excellent free-kick to steal a victory which set them on their solution to Euro 2016 and their unforgettable journey to the semi-finals in France.
Wales discovered themselves in one other perilous place on Sunday as they trailed 2-1 towards a Belarusian aspect 70 locations under them within the Fifa world rankings.
However up stepped their captain and all-time report goalscorer Bale to transform his second penalty of the match to convey Wales degree, earlier than finishing his hat-trick deep into added time to grab victory.
“It is large,” Bale instructed Sky Sports activities after the sport. “Each sport counts. We all know these kind of video games are in all probability the toughest video games.
“For one you are anticipated to win and the opposite groups make it tough. Everything was towards us.
“It was not a great first half in any respect however I felt within the second half we actually modified it, we received on the entrance foot.
“The pitch was not straightforward to play on – very dry, very delicate – however the boys confirmed character but once more.
“It was like Andorra within the first Euro qualifier in 2014. To get that sort of last-minute purpose to get the three factors and hold the momentum going. Hopefully we will hold that going into the following sport.”
The similarities are many between Wales’ Euro 2016 marketing campaign and their makes an attempt to qualify for the 2022 World Cup.
Wales’ marquee victory on the highway to France 5 years in the past was their 1-Zero qualifying win over group favourites and the world’s then second-ranked aspect Belgium in Cardiff.
The person who scored Wales’ solely purpose that night time? Bale, in fact.
The groups met once more within the Euro 2016 quarter-finals, the place Wales triumphed 3-1 – the best night time in Welsh soccer historical past.
Now as they intention to qualify for a primary World Cup since 1958, Wales discover themselves pitted towards Belgium as soon as once more, this time with their opponents ranked primary on this planet.
Belgium are unbeaten of their 4 matches of this marketing campaign and sit prime of Group E, 4 factors away from third-placed Wales however having performed one sport extra.
Solely the group winners qualify mechanically, whereas the runners-up progress to the play-offs – a spot by which Wales are already all however assured after ending prime of their Nations League group.
If they’re to safe their instant passage to subsequent yr’s World Cup in Qatar, Wales will seemingly want to beat Belgium as soon as once more.
Wales misplaced when the groups met within the opening spherical of this marketing campaign however, with Belgium but to go to Cardiff Metropolis Stadium, Bale nonetheless believes automated qualification is feasible.
“Sure, certain. We all know now we have misplaced to Belgium, an excellent Belgium workforce however it is crucial we hold profitable each different sport,” the Actual Madrid ahead stated.
“Everyone knows the efficiency within the first half [against Belarus] was not ok. We corrected it extra within the second half.
“We bounced again and received the three factors and that is all that issues on the finish of the day.”
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