Gareth Bale stressed that taking penalties is his “responsibility” after he confidently stroked home from the spot to rescue a point for Wales against USA on their return to the World Cup.
After winning the foul, the captain stepped up to score an 82nd-minute equaliser as Wales netted their first goal at a World Cup since 1958.
It was fully deserved considering the pressure Rob Page’s side had applied in the second half. They had been trailing to Timothy Weah’s 36th-minute opener.
“You are going to have a little bit of nerves, for sure, but I am confident in my own ability,” Bale, who now has 41 international goals, told ITV afterwards.
“I am the penalty taker. I have to take the responsibility.
“Sometimes you are going to miss but it’s about stepping up for your country and thankfully it went in today.
“We were in a similar position in Euro 2020, where we went a goal down [in the opening game against Switzerland] and showed our character to come back.
“One thing I know about this team is that we never give up. We keep fighting and we always find a way.
“It’s a good point in the end and we try to build on that performance.”
Wales now switch their focus to Friday’s game against Iran, knowing a victory is important if they are to progress from Group B.
When asked if Bale was always going to take the penalty, Page told ITV: “A million percent. He’s never let us down.”
The Wales boss, who replaced Dan James with Keiffer Moore at half-time, was delighted with his side’s second half performance and felt a tactical switch paid dividends.
“To go a goal behind against a good team was similar to Switzerland at Euro 2020 [a 1-1 draw in their opening game],” added Page.
“We showed character and determination to come back. It was important not to lose the first game. Credit to the lads for the shift they put in.
“That [change up front] was nothing about Dan. It just suited Kieffer to get us up the pitch. We couldn’t play through their press. It made a big difference.”