Gareth Bale admitted he looks to have talent 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 the thrilling final at the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles before LAFC beat Philadelphia Union 3-0 on penalties.
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The Welsh star’s goal was the latest in MLS history and tied the match at 3-3 after LAFC twice led before going down to 10 men in extra time and then trailing 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 stunning strike, against Liverpool in 2018. He also scored the winner against Barcelona in the 2014 Copa del Rey final before scoring to help Madrid to victory. the final of the Club World Cup that same year.
“It’s always nice to score in finals and I seem to have the ability to do that,” Bale said.
“It’s great. It’s important for the club, it’s important for the fans. We were down to 10 men and it didn’t really look like we were going to get anything out of the game. So it’s credit to everyone to keep going, fight and like I said, it was nice to score and help the team. I’m not too sure where he ranks, 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 marred his final seasons in the Spanish capital have continued since arriving in LA, limiting him to two appearances as LAFC won the Supporters’ Shield.
It was Bale’s first appearance in the game when he came off the bench in the seventh minute of extra time on Saturday.
Bale admitted: “It’s been a difficult transition that comes without pre-season. “Trying to adjust, it’s been difficult, obviously I’ve settled in with my family.
“But I’ve tried to do as much as I can, I 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 winning goal. MLS Cup final and we did it.”
The 33-year-old warned he is still not 100 per cent following a recent knock and admitted he is concerned about his condition with just two weeks to go before he takes Wales to their first World Cup since 1958. .
“I feel better as time goes by,” he said. “I think it was mentally difficult to participate in the World Cup. You see how there are many players who leave the World Cup and now they miss the World Cup.
“It’s definitely in the back of my mind, trying to make sure I’m 100% fit.”
Wales’ first World Cup game, incidentally, will come against the United States on November 21. And LAFC coach Steve Cherundolo, who won 87 games for the United States, joked that he expects Bale to have a similar effect against the Americans.
“I’m sure he won’t, but I’ll try,” Bale replied.