Wales international Gareth Bale has hit back at claims that he dived to win a penalty during his team's World Cup qualifier against local rival Scotland.
The spot kick, which was successfully converted by Bale, spurred a stirring comeback for Wales, who clinched the game by a 2-1 scoreline after a superb left-footed strike from the 23-year-old Bale in the 88th minute. Earlier, the pacy Tottenham wideman went down in the area after a challenge from Scotland midfielder Shaun Maloney, who appeared to make little contact. The Wigan player has admitted he probably did clip Bale, and Bale himself has stated that the opponent was responsible for his tumble.
"Somebody clipped me, and I went over. It was a simple penalty, and it was nice to get up and slot it away," Bale told the Daily Mail.
Scotland was on course to bag all three points after James Morrison put them ahead in the 27th minute and Steven Fletcher thought he had doubled their lead until his header was controversially disallowed. Then referee Florian Meyer pointed to the spot when Bale fell under Maloney's challenge. Bale's Wales teammate Joe Allen has backed the official.
"My instinct was that it was a penalty. It was a difficult decision, but it looked like his ankle was clipped," the Liverpool midfielder said.
Bale's overall performance in the tense fixture has earned him praise from Wales manager Chris Coleman, who has vouched that the former Southampton player will go on to become an international legend like Ryan Giggs and Ian Rush before him.
"It’s not a case of can Gareth be like them, he will be," Coleman said.
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- Shaun Maloney