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

Gareth Bale admitted he has 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 Major League Soccer championship for the first time on Saturday.

Bale headed in a dramatic equalizer in the 18th minute of the final at Los Angeles’ Banc of California Stadium before LAFC went on to beat the Philadelphia Union 3-0 on penalties.

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The Welsh star scored the latest goal in MLS history and tied the game at 3-3 after LAFC had twice taken the lead before going down to ten men in extra time and falling four minutes into stoppage time.

It was Bale’s sixth goal in a major final. Three of them came in Champions League finals – one against Atletico Madrid in 2014 and two, with 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 the final in the same year.

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

“It’s great. It’s important for the club, it’s important for the fans. We’re down to 10 men and we don’t really like to get anything from the game. So he believes in everyone to keep energetic, to keep fighting; like I said, it was nice to help the goal and the team. I’m not too sure, but it’s a great feeling.”

Bale joined LAFC on a free transfer after ending his eight-year spell at Real Madrid this summer.

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But the fitness issues that have plagued the Spanish capital’s recent seasons have persisted since arriving in LA, limiting him to just two starts as LAFC won the Shield Supporters.

When he came off the bench in the seventh minute of extra time on Saturday, it was Bale’s first appearance in the stands.

“It’s a difficult transition with no preseason entry,” Bale acknowledged. “Trying to catch up, it’s been difficult, obviously, to relocate with my family.

“But I tried to keep fit, try to help the team as much as I can sometimes on the pitch and it’s worth it when you have moments like today. The most important thing was to win the MLS Cup final and we wanted to do that.”

The 33-year-old warned that he is still not 100 per cent fit after his recent knock and admitted he was only worried about his condition for two weeks before he was set to lead Wales into their first World Cup since 1958.

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“I feel better and better as time goes on,” he said. “I think he was mentally tough leading up to the World Cup. You see how so many players 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 World Cup game will coincidentally come against the United States on Nov. 21. and LAFC coach Steve Cherundolo, who has won 87 caps for the US, joked that Bale hopes not to have a similar impact against the Americans.

“Not sure, but I’ll try,” Bale replied.

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