Gareth Bale fires Wales into World Cup play-off final with Austria brace

Gareth Bale, Wales
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Gareth Bale fired Wales to a 2-1 World Cup play-off semi-final victory over Austria that leaves them in sight of their first appearance in the finals for 64 years.

Bale produced two stunning strikes – one in each half – before Wales had to endure anxious moments after Marcel Sabitzer’s deflected effort halved the deficit.

Wales will now play Scotland or Ukraine for a place at the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar.

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That play-off semi-final is now expected to be played in June, with the final set to follow later the same month.

Bale came into the game with doubts over his fitness after missing Sunday’s El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

He also knew that, with his 33rd birthday fast approaching, this year’s World Cup acts as the last chance of him appearing on football’s biggest stage.

But he stood up when his country needed him, extending his own goals record for Wales to 38 in 101 games.

Wales were unbeaten at home in 16 matches, the longest run on Welsh soil in their history.

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