By Sedara Oluwadara
Gareth Bale scored a last-minute equaliser in extra time before Los Angeles FC beat Philadelphia Union on penalties to win the MLS Cup.
The Wales captain had been named on the bench for the game after recovering from a leg injury in the play-offs.
But he climbed off the bench in the 97th minute before heading in to make it 3-3 right at the death, minutes after Philadelphia had scored.LAFC then won the shoot-out 3-0 to win the title for the first time.
Bale’s return to fitness and his significant contribution to the win comes at a good time for Wales, who name their World Cup squad on Wednesday before the tournament in Qatar starts on 20 November.
In what was arguably one of the most memorable games in Major League Soccer history, LAFC had taken the lead in the first half when Kellyn Acosta struck with a deflected free-kick.
Daniel Gazdag equalised midway through the second half when he stopped a low shot from distance to fire in from close range.
Jesus Murillo thought he had won it normal time for LAFC with a strike in the 83rd minute but Jack Elliott equalised two minutes later.
The drama continued in extra time as LAFC then had goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau sent off for a foul, which also resulted in him needing to be taken off on a stretcher.
Elliott then scored four minutes into added time in extra time and looked to have sealed it for Philadelphia.
But, with nine minutes of added time being played, Bale’s dramatic 128th-minute equaliser took the game to penalties, where substitute goalkeeper John McCarthy made two crucial saves before Ilie Sanchez scored the decisive spot-kick to seal a memorable win for LAFC.