Gareth Bale has 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 championship of Major League Soccer for the first time on Saturday.
Bale headed in a stunning equalizer in the 128th minute of a thrilling final at Los Angeles’ Banc California Stadium before LAFC went on to beat Philadelphia Union 3-0 in a penalty shootout.
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The Welsh star’s goal was the latest in MLS history and tied the game at 3-3 after LAFC took the lead twice before going down to 10 men in extra time and falling behind four minutes in stoppage time.
It was Bale’s sixth goal in the grand final. Three of them came in Champions League games – one against Atletico Madrid in 2014 and two, including a stunning brace, against Liverpool in 2018. He also scored the winner against Barcelona in the The 2014 Copa del Rey before he scored to help Madrid win. the finals of the Club World Cup in the same year.
“It’s always nice to score in finals and I seem to have the skills to do that,” Bale said.
“It’s huge. It’s important for the team, it’s important for the fans. We were down to 10 men and we didn’t look like we were going to get anything in the game. So credit to everyone to keep going push on, keep fighting and, like I said, it was nice to get a goal and help the team. Where it is, I’m not too sure, but it’s a good feeling.”
Bale joined LAFC on a free transfer after his eight-year spell at Real Madrid ended this summer.
But the health problems that marred his final seasons in the Spanish capital have continued since his arrival 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 extra time on Saturday, it was Bale’s first appearance in the play-offs.
“It was a difficult transition coming into the pre-season,” Bale admitted. “Trying to find, it’s been difficult, obviously I’m moving with my family.
“But I tried to keep myself as healthy as I could, try to help the team as much as I can on and off the pitch and that’s important when you have moments like today. The most important thing was the goal. to win. MLS Cup final and we were able to do that.”
The 33-year-old has warned he is still not 100 per cent fit after a recent knock and admitted he is worried about his condition just two weeks before he prepares to lead Wales into their first World Cup since in 1958.
“I feel better as time goes on,” he said. “I think it was tough mentally leading up to the World Cup.” You see how many players are going down and then they miss the World Cup.
“It’s definitely been in the back of my mind, trying to make sure I’m 100% okay.”
Wales’ first World Cup match comes against the United States on November 21. And LAFC coach Steve Cherundolo, who has won the United States 87 times, joked that he hoped Bale would not have the same impact against the Americans.
“I’m sure he doesn’t, but I’ll be trying,” Bale replied.