Andorra vs Wales: Lionel Messi is the 'only other player in the world' who can do what Gareth Bale does, says Chris Coleman

Bale scored stunning late free-kick for Wales to beat minnows

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The Independent Online

Wales manager Chris Coleman put Gareth Bale on a par with Lionel Messi after his Euro 2016 qualifying heroics spared Welsh blushes in Andorra.

Bale struck twice to rescue Wales after Andorra, ranked 199 in the world, grabbed a shock lead through Ildefons Lima's fifth-minute penalty.

The Real Madrid star levelled with a first-half header before settling the contest nine minutes from time with a magnificent 25-yard free-kick.

"There are only two players in the world, Lionel Messi and Gareth Bale, who could have done something like that," Coleman said after the game.

"Time's ticking, the pressure's on and wallop, it's 2-1.

"Gareth was absolutely magnificent."

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Gareth Bale scores a late winner for Wales from a free-kick on the controversial artificial surface in Andorra

Coleman praised his players for fighting back to deny Andorra what would have been their first-ever point in European Championship qualifying.

"I think we showed a hell of a lot of courage," Coleman said.

"Look at their record and people thought it was a formality but I was worried before we kicked a ball.

"We watched them against Holland when they lost 2-0 and they drew with Finland and they made it difficult for us.

"But we stuck at it and I'm proud of my team. It wasn't about the performance, we just needed to win the game."

Coleman was not so impressed with the 3G surface at Andorra's newly-built national stadium, the pitch only passed by UEFA last week after previous inspections had showed that the ball ran too fast on it.

"When we trained on it, my heart sunk," Coleman said.

"In my opinion the pitch is not up to the standard of a Uefa qualifier.

"But I don't won't want to make a protest because I want other teams to come here.

"I didn't want to say anything about the pitch before the game, but I can now and if you're a passing team forget it.

"We've played a lot better than lost but you've got to take that pitch into consideration.

"We could not show our quality but we showed great courage and determination and stayed calm in certain situations when we could have lost our heads."

Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey came off in the closing stages with an ankle injury and could face a race against time to make the Gunners' huge Barclays Premier League game with Manchester City on Saturday.

"He got a kick and there was a twist in his ankle," Coleman said.

"It was coming to the end of the game and it was pointless taking a risk with him.

"Hopefully he'll be okay for Arsenal at the weekend but we'll have to see what the next 24 to 48 hours hold."

Andorra coach Koldo Alvarez dismissed Coleman's criticism of the pitch but did not want to talk about the issue.

"I'm no expert but we just played and defended well as team," Alvarez said.

PA

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