Football: Gareth Bale is Wales' all-time top scorer as new boss Ryan Giggs gets winning start

Gareth Bale celebrating one of his three goals in the 6-0 win against China as he overtakes Ian Rush (28) as Wales' all-time top scorer with 29 goals. His appearance in Nanning also helped Wales avoid losing £100,000 (S$186,100) of their £1 million
Gareth Bale celebrating one of his three goals in the 6-0 win against China as he overtakes Ian Rush (28) as Wales' all-time top scorer with 29 goals. His appearance in Nanning also helped Wales avoid losing £100,000 (S$186,100) of their £1 million fee.PHOTO: XINHUA

BEIJING • There were wild celebrations in Gareth Bale's household yesterday after the forward made it a night his family would never forget by overtaking Ian Rush to become Wales' record scorer.

His historic hat-trick gave Ryan Giggs a perfect start as an international manager, with Wales thrashing China 6-0 in Nanning.

Bale's stunning display saw him score twice before the break and he completed his first international treble in the second half, reaching 29 goals for his country in 69 appearances, surpassing striker Rush's tally of 28.

Chris Gunter also eclipsed the late Gary Speed as Wales' most-capped outfield player with 86 appearances. Sam Vokes added two more goals and Harry Wilson scored on his 21st birthday as Giggs' men turned on the style.

Real Madrid star Bale told BBC Sport after the match that it was a cause for double celebration.

"It's amazing - and on my daughter's birthday as well! It's great to get the record but the most important thing is the team plays well," he said. "It's a major honour and a massive achievement. I never dreamed of being a record-breaker for Wales.

"It's an incredible honour and one of the best things I have achieved in my career."

The hosts were woeful and Bale took full advantage to score Wales' first hat-trick since Robert Earnshaw's treble against Scotland in 2004.

Giggs started Bale despite him making the 12,070km journey to China only on Monday and the former Manchester United winger opted for a three-man defence in a 3-5-2 formation.

Wales had avoided losing £100,000 (S$186,100) of their £1 million fee for competing in the China Cup by playing Bale, and Giggs gave the home crowd what they wanted by keeping him on after the break.

Bale duly obliged, establishing his place in Welsh football history after converting Joe Allen's long ball in the 62nd minute.

Yesterday's win means Wales will now face either Uruguay or the Czech Republic - who meet today - for the chance to win the China Cup on Monday.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2018, with the headline 'Bale's moment in history as Giggs gets winning start'. Print Edition | Subscribe