USA vs Wales: Dragons claw back a draw with Eagles

The first game for both Wales and the USA in this World Cup was billed as the deciding match in Group B, determining who will finish behind England to qualify for the Group of 16.

And football is, as they say, a game of two halves. The first period of this match was a frantic, frenetic affair, with neither team settling, the USA pressing high, Wales scrabbling to make passes. Breathless stuff.

After 35 minutes in which the Stars and Stripes largely had the upper hand, Timothy Weah put his side ahead with a neat finish, fed from Captain America Christian Pulisic.

It was no less than they deserved; their advanced pitch position and the telltale energy of a team with an average age in the mid-20s causing no end of problems for Wales.

And then came the second half. The Welsh wing-backs pushed further, acting as midfielders, allowing the midfield to press higher still. Concerted pressure from around the 58th minute gave Wales some momentum; by the 64th minute Ben Davies was able to make a headed shot, tipped over the bar for a corner. The ensuing delivery gave Keifer Moore the best chance of the game, but was ultimately fruitless.

Wales made the most of their veterans to calm the nerves and continue to wind up the pressure on the USA back line. Eventually, the cracks showed. An 81st-minute cross into Wales talisman Gareth Bale in the box, a more-than-clumsy tackle, and the referee pointing to the spot.

And Bale doesn’t miss penalties.

Nine minutes of added time resulted in a tense, nervy end to the match. Both teams’ discipline started to falter, both teams looking like they could score a winner. A draw means the USA will be desperate to make a big impact in their game against England on Friday November 25, while Wales face Iran on the same day. But the biggest matches of this group will come the fllowing Tuesday, when the USA face Iran, and Wales meet their old neighbours England.