FAW pic captures Bale's triumph against Azerbaijan
Victory in Cardiff keeps Wales in Euro 2020 qualifying contention
In a match billed as a must win game for Wales, Ryan Giggs’ squad achieved that aim but were frustrated throughout the match by the visitors to Cardiff.
Cymru were lacking penetration in the final third of the pitch but opened the scoring in the 26thminute when an own goal from the visitors.
Wales held the lead until half-time and an expectant home crowd anticipated more in the second half but Azerbaijan capitalised on a defensive error when Neil Taylor lost possession
A strike from Mahir Emreli was saved by Wayne Hennessey. However, the Cymru goalkeeper spilled the ball back into the path of Emreli who had an easy tap-in to level the game at 1-1.
Azerbaijan continued to exasperate until talisman Bale stepped up in the 84th minute. His winning header saw the ball go in off the underneath of the crossbar to take Cymru third in qualifying group E.
A relieved Ryan Giggs spoke to the media, praising captain Bale for his 84th minute winner:
"Obviously, it was an important must-win game, and we won it.
"I wasn't happy with the first half, because I knew 1-0 wasn't going to be good enough. But I'm delighted with the three points and with the character we've shown.
“There were positives, but also things we were disappointed with. I felt that there were goals there if we stuck to the game plan, but we were too hasty, and Azerbaijan are good at what they do.
“We played right into their hands in the first half, and I was frustrated. Azerbaijan have scored in every game and I was wary of that, and they worked hard tonight and made it difficult for us. They're a proud nation. No team can take Azerbaijan for granted when they play them.
"Gareth (Bale) has scored so many important goals for Wales over the years. He showed great character, just like the rest of lads, and I was really happy for him.”
Focus will now turn to the match against Slovakia (10 October) in Trnava and the encounter with Croatia (13 October) in Cardiff.