Gareth Bale admitted he looks set to score in the 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 championship for the first time on Saturday.
Bale headed in a dramatic equalizer in the 128th minute of a thrilling final at Los Angeles’ Bank of California Stadium before LAFC defeated Philadelphia Union 3-0 in a penalty shootout.
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The Welsh star’s goal was the last scored in MLS history and tied the game at 3-3 after LAFC twice took the lead before going down to 10 men in extra time and then falling behind by four minutes in stoppage time.
It was Bale’s sixth goal in a major final. Three of them came in the 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 nice to score in finals and I seem to have hypertension to do it,” Bale said.
“It’s great. It’s important for the club, it’s important for the fans. We were down to 10 men and didn’t really look like we were going to get anything out of the game. So credit to everyone to keep pushing, keep fighting and, Like I said, it was nice to get the goal and to help the team. Where it ranks, I’m not too sure, 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 last few seasons in the Spanish capital have continued 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 extra time on Saturday, it was Bale’s first appearance of the playoffs.
“It was a difficult transition with no preseason,” Bale acknowledged. “Trying to catch up, it was hard, obviously moving around with my family.
“But I tried to stay as fit as I can, try to help the team as much as I can on and off the pitch and it’s all worth it when you have moments like today. The most important thing was the goal to win .the MLS Cup final and we managed to do it.
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 he is set to lead Wales into their first World Cup since 1958.
“I feel better and better as time goes on,” he said. “I think it was difficult mentally to lead in the World Cup. You see how there are so many players who drop out and now they miss the World Cup.
“For sure it was in the back of my mind, trying to make sure I was 100% fit.”
Wales’ first game of the World Cup will, coincidentally, come against the United States on November 21. and LAFC coach Steve Chirundolo, who won 87 caps for the US. American.
“I’m sure he doesn’t, but I’ll try,” Bale replied.