Gareth Bale: Wales captain salutes 'massive' win over Czech Republic

By Dafydd PritchardBBC Sport Wales at Cardiff City Stadium
Gareth Bale celebrates with Jonny Williams
Gareth Bale, celebrating with Jonny Williams, is Wales men's all-time leading scorer with 33 goals

Captain Gareth Bale described Wales' win over the Czech Republic as "massive" for their hopes of qualifying for a first World Cup since 1958.

Bale delivered the cross for Daniel James' late winning goal on Tuesday.

The result gave Wales their first points of the campaign, having lost their opening match in Belgium.

"We didn't get off to the best start against Belgium so it was massively important to get the win tonight," said on-loan Tottenham forward Bale.

"It was a massive result. We showed a lot of heart and desire to match a very physical team.

"It was very chaotic, especially second half, but we were ready and kept going until the end and the most important thing is to get that winner."

The victory moved Wales up to third place in Group E, one point behind the Czech Republic in second and four adrift of leaders Belgium, albeit having played one game fewer than both.

Although this was only Wales' second match of the campaign, it felt like a significant fixture coming as it did against one of their likeliest rivals for qualification.

Only the group winners will qualify automatically for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, with the team finishing second going into the play-offs.

Belgium, the world's number-one ranked side, are the overwhelming favourites to top the group, while Wales have already all-but guaranteed themselves a play-off after winning their Nations League group last November.

"We need to win games to qualify and we want to win every game," Bale told Sky Sports.

"Football doesn't always go the way you expect it to.

"Pagey [temporary manager Robert Page] has kept us focused despite what is going on off the field.

"The win is just what we needed."

Wales have been disrupted by numerous off-field distractions in recent months.

Daniel James: Wales match-winner praises caretaker boss Robert Page

They are without manager Ryan Giggs, who has had his bail extended to 1 May after denying an allegation of assault.

In his absence, assistant boss Page has stepped up to take charge of six matches during November and this month.

On Monday, Hal Robson-Kanu, Rabbi Matondo and Tyler Roberts were released from the squad after "breaching protocols", the nature of which the Football Association of Wales (FAW) has refused to specify.

Unperturbed by the latest potential distraction, Wales dug deep to overcome the Czech Republic in an eventful encounter in which both teams had a man sent off.

"That's an in-house issue and we've dealt with it," Page said of Robson-Kanu, Matondo and Roberts' departure.

"There's so many positives from tonight's performance, I don't want to talk about that.

"It's done, it's dealt with, it's been forgotten. We move forward."

Page was much happier to discuss Tuesday's result and how it enhanced Wales' hopes of qualifying for the World Cup.

"Coming into the camp, being greedy we wanted four points [from the two games] but we would have absolutely taken three points at the start of it," he said.

"Certainly after the result we had last week and with the Czech Republic drawing with Belgium.

"We knew a win would put us in a nice place in the group and it's absolutely done that."