Scots unravel as Bale brace takes the heat off Coleman
A RIVALRY studded with contentious penalty decisions in World Cup qualifiers produced another in a pulsating tie in the Welsh capital last night.
This time it fell in Wales' favour when Shaun Maloney was judged to have fouled Gareth Bale in the box late in the second half, with the Scots in the lead thanks to a James Morrison strike.
Bale coolly converted from the spot and, to complete an eventful night for him, administered the coup de grace with a stunning left-foot drive seven minutes from time.
The Scots complained bitterly that they had a legitimate goal by Steven Fletcher disallowed wrongly for having gone out of play, but the acid truth is that Chris Coleman is not now the manager under pressure, while Craig Levein has seen Scotland's campaign unravel.
Bale wasted no time in making life torrid for Danny Fox on the left side of the Scots' back line. Nine minutes into the contest Bale swept past Fox and cut into the box to direct a curling shot around Allan McGregor but also just beyond the far post.
Fox was left for dead again shortly after the midway point of the first half when Bale went for the dead-ball line and struck a cross that was met by Steve Morison. With the 'keeper beaten, the shot went narrowly wide.
Welsh disappointment turned into anguish instantly as, from the goal-kick, Scotland went straight upfield, Steven Fletcher nodded down and the Scottish Morrison drove hard into the net.
Coleman's players bit back and could have equalised when Aaron Ramsey snapped on to a mid-height cross from Bale, only for the volley to sweep over McGregor's crossbar.
The tension, almost unbearable, was cranked to the limit when a deep cross from Charlie Adam was headed into the net by Fletcher only for the assistant referee to flag that the delivery had gone out of play.
The stupendous finale, though, belonged to Bale and, while the Scots protested against his penalty, there could be no argument about his climactic contribution. (© Daily Telegraph, London)