Cape Town – Wales held out for a 1-all draw against the USA in their Group B clash to close out Monday's second day's play at the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar.
The outcome was a fortuitous end for Wales who were playing in their first World Cup in 64 years. They were handed a football lesson in the first half. However, they came out in the second stanza firing on all cylinders to deny the new-look American team that is the second-youngest in the tournament.
Five things we learnt from this clash that enjoyed nine minutes of extra time:
The African Connection
Tim Weah, the eldest child of George Weah, the only African player to ever win the FIFA Ballon d'Or, scored America's first World Cup goal in 8 years.
The 22-year-old Weah produced a sublime finishing touch after running onto a defence-splitting pass from Christian Pulisic, popularly known as 'Captain America'. He slipped the ball past Wayne Hennessey, the Welsh goalkeeper. As it turned out, Weah's first-half strike was America's only goal in the match.
Nowadays, George Weah serves as President of Liberia, but never managed to play in a World Cup. He was in the crowd of 43,418 spectators at the match.
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) November 22, 2022
One too many
In the first half especially the Americans weighed in with scything tackles and were often overly robust. They held the upper hand for long spells and should have taken the initiative to put the game beyond the reach of Wales.
In the second half one rash tackle too many put paid to their chances of making a winning start to the World Cup campaign. USA central defender upended Welsh talisman Gareth Bale in the penalty area and this foul allowed Wales to equalise. Bale stepped up to the 'spot' and slammed the ball past USA goalkeeper Matt Turner with a blast to the upper right corner of the net.
Six yellows in the ref's black book
Qatar referee Abdulrahman Al-Jassim had a busy night in the match that lasted just over 100 minutes. Four yellows went to the Americans and two to the Welsh wh with a meagre possession of 41% committed 10 fouls.
The Americans enjoyed 59% possession and committed 15 fouls.
Ironically, the Welsh won the shots-at-goal count 7-6 and of the seven, three were on target. The Americans had one shot on target and that resulted in Weah's goal.
Onward Christian soldier
Man of the Match, the USA's attacking midfielder Christian Pulisic was prominent from start to finish. He was subjected to some fierce challenges by the Wales defenders, and it looked like Chris Mepham was given the job of keeping Pulisic in check. Pulisic who became the first American to win a UEFA Champions League winner's medal while at Chelsea, was one of 10 Europe-based players in the starting XI.
Young at heart
Yunus Musah, a midfielder for La Liga club Valencia,
became the youngest American to start a World Cup match, at 19 years, and 358 days. He is 19 days younger than DaMarcus Beasley who set the mark for the youngest in 2022.
Musah was born in the United States to Ghanaian parents,
Tyler Adams at 23 years became the youngest US World Cup captain. He was one of the
best players on the field. He broke down a few of the opposition's counter-attacks and allowed the USA to dominate possession. He made an important tackle in the dying minutes of the game in the penalty area.