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Superb Bale scores hat-trick to end his 2-year goal-drought for Wales

Gareth Bale ended his two-year Wales scoring drought on Sunday with a hat-trick in a thrilling 3-2 defeat of Belarus in a 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying game in Kazan.

Bale had not added to his record 33 goals since scoring against Croatia in October 2019 – a run of 16 games.

But the Real Madrid forward struck twice from the penalty kick spot before his dramatic stoppage-time winner broke Belarus hearts.

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Vitali Lisakovich and Pavel Sedko had scored in the space of two first-half minutes to turn the clash on its head.

Bale converted from the penalty kick spot after five and 69 minutes and was then in the perfect position to turn Daniel James’ cross goalwards.

This came as time appeared to be running out on Wales’ bid to close down top-two Belgium and the Czech Republic in Group E.

But Wales are only four points behind group leaders Belgium, with a game in hand, going into Wednesday’s home qualifier against Estonia.

Wales had been decimated by a spate of withdrawals which had rekindled unhappy memories of the John Toshack era between 2004 and 2010.

Injuries, visa issues, suspensions and COVID-19 had left interim manager Rob Page without 10 of the 23 players who were in the matchday squad for Wales’ last competitive fixture.

That was the 4-0 defeat to Denmark at Euro 2020.

dpa/NAN

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