Belfast Telegraph

Bale hails battling Wales despite the lead slipping twice in Austria

Austria 2 - Wales 2

By Phil Blanche

Gareth Bale admitted Wales were far from their best as they were held to a 2-2 draw in their World Cup qualifying Group D clash with Austria in Vienna.

Joe Allen's superb strike and a Kevin Wimmer own goal twice gave Wales the lead, but they were pegged back each time through goals by Stoke forward Marko Arnautovic.

Bale said: "It's a difficult place to come if you look at their record in qualifying. They didn't lose at all (in qualifying for the Euros) and drew one game.

"We know we weren't at our best. It was a difficult game, they're a very good team.

"This is what we've grown up to do - we grind out results when we need them. When we don't play well we defend solidly as a team. We get something from the game.

"We were frustrated. We know we didn't play well enough. They made it very difficult for us, there wasn't much space up front.

"Ultimately we would have loved to have played better and won the game.

"We have to take the positives from the game, it's a very difficult place to come."

Wales manager Chris Coleman echoed the thoughts of Bale on Wales' performance.

He said: "We weren't at our best. They're a very good team so we knew we'd be up against it. It was a very good atmosphere.

"It was one of those nights where if we were going to take the three points we would have to be on top of our game in every department, and we weren't, but we found a way.

"By hook or by crook we were riding our luck at times.

"It was a real good game between two good teams. And that just goes to show if you're going to get something out of a performance when you're not at your best, and we weren't, but we still got something.

"The fighting spirit was fantastic. We'd take the point.

"We were making trouble for ourselves. That's not like us. We were indecisive and Austria could smell that on us.

"Good teams do that. They pressed us quickly and we made mistakes.

"We can play a lot better. We can't fight any harder than we fought out there.

"We weren't having a good night. They weren't playing like they can play. They never shied away from the challenge. They stuck in there, dug it out and we had a good point at the end of the day."

Coleman also confirmed that Allen was withdrawn after feeling a twinge in his hamstring.

He added: "He just felt something in his hamstring. So it's not worth taking the risk, and we don't do that with players anyway. We don't know yet exactly but he felt a little bit of a twinge.

"And before it got any worse we made the change because we've got a game Sunday (at home to Georgia). If he's got a chance then great, and if he hasn't then that's how it is."

Allen scored with a spectacular 22nd-minute volley.

Wimmer's unfortunate moment came on the stroke of half-time after goalkeeper Robert Almer had pushed James Chester's close-range effort into his path as he lay on the floor.

In between, Arnautovic struck with a smart header and then levelled three minutes after the re-start.



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