Gareth Bale adds to collection of final goals in MLS Cup win

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 when he helped LAFC win the Major League Soccer title for the first time on Saturday.

Bale scored a dramatic equalizer in the 128th minute of the thrilling final at Los Angeles’ Banc of California Stadium before LAFC beat Philadelphia Union 3-0 on penalties.

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The Welsh star’s goal was the latest in MLS history to tie the game at 3-3 after LAFC had twice taken the lead before going down to 10 men in extra time and then falling behind four minutes into stoppage time.

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.

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“It’s always nice to score in finals and I seem to have the ability to do that,” Bale said.

“It’s big. 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 to keep pushing, keep fighting and, As I said, it was nice to score the goal and help the team. I’m not too sure where it ranks, but it’s a great feeling.”

Bale joined LAFC on a free transfer after an eight-year stint at Real Madrid in the summer.

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But the fitness problems 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 in the play-offs.

“It was a difficult transition coming without pre-season,” Bale admitted. “Trying to catch up, it’s been tough, obviously relocating with my family.

“But I’ve tried to keep fit as much as I can, I’ve tried 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 of winning the MLS Cup final and we did it ».

The 33-year-old warned he is still not 100% fit after a recent knock and admitted he was worried about his condition just over two weeks before he is set to lead Wales to their first World Cup since 1958.

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“I feel better and better as time goes on,” he said. “I think it was tough mentally leading up to the World Cup. You see how there are so many players who leave and now miss the World Cup.

“It was definitely in the back of my mind, trying to make sure I was 100% fit.”

Wales’ first World Cup match will, coincidentally, be against the United States on November 21. And LAFC manager Steve Cherundolo, who won 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,” Bale replied.

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