World Cup 2022: USMNT nearly clinches win against Wales in opening game

Al Rayyan, Qatar - The US men's national soccer team (USMNT) nearly secured a win in their opening World Cup Group B match on Monday, until Wales' captain Gareth Bale converted a late penalty that led to a 1-1 draw.

The USMNT nearly defeated Wales in their opening World Cup Group B match on Monday.
The USMNT nearly defeated Wales in their opening World Cup Group B match on Monday.  © Collage: IMAGO/USA TODAY Network

Former Real Madrid player Bale, who now plays for MLS club Los Angeles FC, fired the spot kick into the top right corner in the 82nd minute of the Group B match in Al Rayyan after being brought down by Walker Zimmermann.

The USMNT had taken a 36th-minute lead from Lille winger Timothy Weah, the son of former World Player of the Year George Weah who is now President of Liberia, off a superb pass from Christian Pulisic.

The US, who missed the 2018 tournament, had already come close to scoring early on in the match when Wales defender Joe Rodon dangerously headed a cross right at his goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey from point-blank range, and Josh Sargent was denied by the outside left post seconds later.

US Soccer coach Greg Berhalter under fire amid scandal over kicking his wife
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Wales, playing in their second World Cup after a 1958 debut, stepped up their game after the break. Ben Davies' diving header in the 64th was tipped over the bar by goalkeeper Matt Turner and Kieffer Moore nodded just high off the ensuing corner kick - before superstar Bale himself stepped up to clinch the draw from the spot.

Following the match, USMNT player Tyler Adams gave the team's head coach Gregg Berhalter major props: "Gregg came up with a very good match plan on how to exploit the spaces."

Group B continues on Friday with the USMNT set to face leaders England, who thrashed Iran 6-2 earlier on Monday.

Cover photo: Collage: IMAGO/USA TODAY Network

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