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Wales v Scotland: Gareth Bale is not a diver, insists manager Chris Coleman, after 2-1 World Cup qualifying win
11:36PM BST 12 Oct 2012
Chris Coleman led the tributes, superlatives in too sparse supply to sum up the influence of the Tottenham midfielder, after his two goals in the last 10 minutes, the winner with just two minutes remaining.
“He keeps producing swashbuckling performances and doing things no other player can do,” said Coleman. “We see it time and again from Gareth, either running 60 yards or banging one in from 30 yards. He has not even peaked yet. It was a world-class performance. His energy is unbelievable. He is like a machine, even better than I thought.
“He has power and balance and on that form there is not a full-back in the world who could cope with him.”
Scotland manager Craig Levein had no complaints about the 80th-minute penalty award, when Bale was fouled by Shaun Maloney. Instead, Levein was cursing the decision to rule out a Steven Fletcher strike when the Scots still led 1-0.
Coleman said there was no question of Bale diving to earn the spot-kick. “People are talking about simulation at the moment but how many times does he get booted and players get away with it?” said Coleman.
“How many nasty tackles to try to stop him? When you are running that fast, he has to go down if he’s touched. He takes his fair share and more. I don’t like to see people diving and I don’t think he did and if you look at Maloney’s face, he knows. There is no question of a dive.”
Bale was also adamant he was tripped. “He took my leg,” he said. “I couldn’t stay on my feet so it was a penalty and fortunately I got up and put it away. I have missed a few when I have taken them, but I fancied it and was confident and that’s why I stepped up.”
If there was any dispute at his first, the second, from 30 yards, was worthy of a World Cup final itself. “It was a bit of a surprise that it opened up in front of me and I drove into the space, nobody closed me down, I saw the shot on and gave it a go,” said Bale. “Some go in and some don’t, I think it can kick-start our campaign, and hopefully give us more confidence.
“We had a disappointing result last time and we wanted to put things right.” Coleman, who had acknowledged the potential job repercussions of another failure before the game, hopes victory will galvanise the campaign. “I don’t celebrate I feel relieved as a manager,” said Coleman. “It’s the first time I’ve had a win since I took the job, but I’m the same manager now as I was on Monday. Let’s see what we come back with after Croatia. Before tonight we were rock bottom. Now we have three points it’s a step in the right direction.
“I did think we deserved it. They scored in the first half against the run of play and we had a couple of good chances. I thought we were the more dominant team.”
Levein could not see beyond the controversial decision to rule out Fletcher’s goal as the decisive moment. “I believe there was a serious error with they chalked off the goal that Steven Fletcher scored. That was very hard to take,” he said. “It’s football. Things go your way sometimes and you get breaks, but poor decisions have a huge affect on qualifying. That makes me pretty angry but there is no point showing that anger here. You can understand my frustration. Everyone who watches can make up their own mind.
“With 10 minutes to go I couldn’t see us losing the match, the second goal was always going to be crucial.
“I have no complaint on the penalty. I couldn’t see it, but the chalked off goal for me is the one. It’s very difficult to take. I felt we were in control and we would be winners, but we’ve been hit by a sucker punch. I feel the injustice but it’s important we react in the right way.”
Levein also recognised the brilliance of Bale’s late intervention. “First half we coped well with him, but in the second half he started to wander a bit which is more difficult to stop,” he said.
“He is a fantastic player isn’t he and he became an issue for us.”
Taken from telegraph.co.uk