World Football - Bale on fire as Wales beat Austria

International friendly, Liberty Stadium - Wales 2 (Bale 21, Vokes 52) Austria 1 (Janko 75)

A Gareth Bale inspired Wales side claimed a well-earned 2-1 win over Austria at the Liberty Stadium as they prepare to resume World Cup qualification next month.

A first-half goal and an assist laid on by the Spurs winger gave Chris Coleman just his second win as Wales manager, despite being pegged back by Austrian striker Marc Janko’s headed goal late in the game.

Having lost their last three and six out of their previous eight friendly matches Wales' record did not inspire confidence and indeed the Austrians started brightly. Adam Matthews was required to clear off the line after just two minutes when Sebastian Prodl’s effort from a troublesome corner kick was deflected goalwards.

West Brom keeper Boaz Myhill was then forced into a strong save to prevent Marko Arnautovic smashing home an early opener.

However, once the home side gathered themselves Bale opened the scoring after 21 minutes, latching on to Allen’s angled long ball to slot past Austrian keeper Robert Almer.

Craig Bellamy, who was making his first international appearance since August 2012, came close after being slotted through on goal by David Vaughan, but his shot missed the target by a matter of inches.

The visitors found the net on the half hour mark after Emanuel Pogatetz bundled home Janko’s knock down at the back post. However, the Austrian targetman was adjudged to have been offside when Andreas Ivanschitz’s freekick was whipped into the box.

With half-time looming Alaba, who had grown in stature as the half progressed, struck the post after firing a sensational strike from 35 yards towards Myhill’s goal.

The home side doubled their lead after the break, with Bale crossing from the right for substitute Sam Vokes to power home a header.

And Bale should really have made it 3-0 just minutes later when a Jack Collison cross fell into his path just 16 yards out from goal. However, the 23 year old smashed his shot into the ground and missed the target altogether.

But with Bale withdrawn on the hour mark and a number of substitutions made by both sides disrupting the flow of the game, Austria played themselves back into contention and halved the deficit through Marc Janko, who headed past Myhill from six yards.

With less than ten minutes remaining Arnautovic was desperately unfortunate to see his shot marginally miss the target as Wales struggled to establish an attacking foothold in the game.

Playing at the home of his club side Ashley Williams appeared lucky to avoid conceding a spot kick, with replays showing the Swansea defender bundling Janko to the ground in an off the ball incident, but Wales held out for a morale boosting victory.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Gareth Bale, Wales - A first-half goal and an assist laid on by the Spurs winger gave Chris Coleman just his second win as Wales manager.

PLAYER RATINGS

WALES: Myhill 6, Matthews 7, Ricketts 7, Williams 7, Davies 7, Allen 8, Vaughan 7, Ledley 6, Bale 8, Collison 7, Bellamy 7. Subs: Vokes 7, King 5, Robson-Kanu 5, Gunter 5, Church 6.

AUSTRIA: Almer 6, Pogatezt 8, Suttner 7, Prodl 7, Klein 6, Kavlak 6, Alaba 8, Ivanschitz 7, Arnautovic 8, Janko 7, Weimann 7. Subs: Junuzovic 6, Jantscher 5, Leitgeb 5, Schiemer 4.

MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND STATS