Wales manager Chris Coleman put Gareth Bale on a par with Lionel Messi after his UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying heroics spared Welsh blushes in Andorra.
Bale struck twice to rescue Wales after Andorra, ranked 199 in the world, grabbed a shock lead through Ildefons Lima’s fifth-minute penalty. The Real Madrid star levelled with a first-half header before settling the contest nine minutes from time with a magnificent 25-yard free-kick.
“There are only two players in the world, Lionel Messi and Gareth Bale, who could have done something like that,” Coleman said after the game. “Time’s ticking, the pressure’s on and wallop, it’s 2-1. Gareth was absolutely magnificent.”
Coleman praised his players for fighting back to deny Andorra what would have been their first-ever point in Euro qualifying. “I think we showed a hell of a lot of courage,” Coleman said. “Look at their record and people thought it was a formality but I was worried before we kicked a ball.
“We watched them against Holland when they lost 2-0 and they drew with Finland and they made it difficult for us. But we stuck at it and I’m proud of my team. It wasn’t about the performance, we just needed to win the game.”
Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey came off in the closing stages with an ankle injury and could face a race against time to make the Gunners’ huge Premier League game with Manchester City on Saturday. “He got a kick and there was a twist in his ankle,” Coleman said.
“It was coming to the end of the game and it was pointless taking a risk with him. Hopefully he’ll be okay for Arsenal at the weekend but we’ll have to see what the next 24 to 48 hours hold.”