Bale breaks Scottish hearts

Two late goals from Gareth Bale gave Wales victory in Cardiff and inflicted serious damage on Scotland’s hopes of qualifying for the World Cup. It was a first victory for Wales under Chris Coleman, who took over the manager’s job after the death of Gary Speed.

Scotland had appeared on course for three points. James Morrison had given them the lead in the first half and Steven Fletcher had appeared to make it 2-0 with a header before it was disallowed after a linesman ruled that the cross had curved out of play.

Wales missed a number of easy chances to equalise before Bale fell in the penalty area after an innocuous challenge from Shaun Moloney. He scored from the spot. If the equaliser was embarrassing, the winner was sublime, as Bale unleashed a rising shot from 25 yards into the top corner.

"Gareth keeps on producing swashbuckling performances, he keeps on doing things not many other players are capable of doing," Coleman said. "He's either setting a goal up or banging one in from 30 yards. He's a special player, we all know that. And if you think he's 23, he's not even at his peak yet. He was different class tonight."

Scotland manager Craig Levein was less happy, dwelling on the disallowed goal. "Getting a second goal for us was always going to be crucial," he said, "because a 1-0 lead can be fragile and so it proved tonight. That second goal was all so important to us and I believe the official's made a serious error with the chalked off goal that Steven Fletcher has scored."

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