Belfast Telegraph

Gareth Bale's brace saves Wales from shock defeat in Andorra

Andorra 1-2 Wales

By Andrew Gwilym

Gareth Bale rescued Wales from severe embarrassment in Andorra as Chris Coleman's side began their Euro 2016 campaign with a nervy 2-1 victory.

Wales trailed to a fifth-minute penalty from Ildefons Lima as Andorra, ranked 199 in the world, scored their first goal in competitive football for four years.

Real Madrid star Bale equalised with a 22nd minute header before grabbing a dramatic winner nine minutes from time with a wonderful 25-yard free-kick.

The 3G artificial surface had generated plenty of headlines in the build-up to the game and it was clearly far from perfect, leaving Bale relieved that Wales got the job done.

"I can't describe how bad, bobbly and hard the pitch was to deal with," said Bale. "We said at the start that the most important thing was to get three points.

"Other teams are going to find it difficult coming here so for us to get three points is important.

"We want to qualify and to do that you have to come to places like this and get victories."

Wales were stunned after five minutes when Andorra scored their first competitive goal since September 2010 courtesy of a controversial penalty.

Ildefons Lima flicked on a long throw and Neil Taylor was adjudged to have fouled Ivan Lorenzo, not by referee Cristian Martinez but by one of the extra officials behind the goal.

Lima sent Wayne Hennessey the wrong way from the spot to spark wild celebrations among the Andorra team.

Wales were visibly shocked, but equalised on 22 minutes when Ben Davies crossed from the left and Bale beat his marker and head firmly into the corner.

Wales won the game on 81 minutes. Bale was felled to win a free-kick which was just about saved by Pol in the Andorra goal.

But Bale was given a second chance as Riera had raced out too quickly and this time the winger curled a magnificent 25-yard effort into the corner of Pol's net.

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