Bale backed to shine for Wales
4:02pm Thursday 6th March 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Wales manager Chris Coleman expects Gareth Bale to become an even better player for his country than Ryan Giggs.
Real Madrid star Bale, the world's most expensive player, dazzled on his return to international duty as he inspired Wales to a comfortable friendly win over Iceland in Cardiff.
Bale scored a brilliant solo goal and created others for James Collins and Sam Vokes in a 3-1 win at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Bale's brilliance is fuelling confidence that Wales can challenge for a place at Euro 2016 and Coleman believes the 24-year-old's national status can surpass that of his former team-mate Giggs, who retired from international football in 2007 but has remained a prominent figure at Manchester United, where a glittering career has spanned more than two decades.
Coleman said: "It's difficult to compare. I always say Giggsy was the best player I played with but, with this boy and what he is doing, he will be number one for Wales.
"Baley scores more goals where he runs past four or five defenders. He is probably more destructive.
"I've said Giggsy was the best player for Wales I have ever seen but I think Gareth has got that capacity."
Bale made a slow start at the Bernabeu following his £85.3million move from Tottenham last summer, with niggling injuries hampering his progress.
But he has now started to shine with five goals in his last seven appearances for a Real side who are top of La Liga, through to the Copa del Rey final and in touch of the Champions League quarter-finals.
His workload for the remainder of the season is likely to be highly demanding, but there was not a hint of apathy for a low-key international friendly.
The poor turnout of 13,290 added to the underwhelming feel of the occasion but Bale was highly charged, running Iceland ragged for the 72 minutes he played.
Wales' hopes have often been undermined by the withdrawals of some of their leading lights in the past but Coleman wants to see Bale's exemplary attitude to be the squad norm.
Coleman said: "We have got to make sure we all buy into whichever way we are going to go forward.
"I believe we have got enough quality. If we have got everyone together, or most of them, then this is a great chance for us.
"If we can get to the point where, when some lads are missing and other lads come in and do well, you say, 'That's it, we go with this', that would put pressure on everybody.
"If you get a chance you take it because you don't know when the next one will come about, rather than always scratching around not having enough."
Wales went ahead after 12 minutes when Collins headed home from a Bale free-kick.
Iceland were level at the break after a Johann Gudmundsson strike was deflected in by Ashley Williams but the rampant Bale soon killed them off.
Vokes was on hand to head home a rebound after a Bale shot, following a typical surge down the right, was cleared off the line.
Bale did all the damage himself for the third goal, racing down the touchline from inside his own half and then cutting in to drill home a low shot.
It completed Wales' biggest win under Coleman and was their fourth match unbeaten.
There is a feeling that momentum is building ahead of the start of the next competitive campaign and the return of Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey from injury adds to the growing optimism.
Wales now have one more friendly against Holland in June before their first European Championship qualifier against Andorra.
Coleman said: "We are having a decent run but that is all it is.
"We will start on zero points against Andorra away.
"Whatever we have just done, and whatever happens against Holland, the Andorra game will be a World Cup final.
"And the one after that will be a World Cup final, and the one after that.
"After three or four games we need to be in the mix.
"We need to feel excitement, we need to have this place rocking.
"We are only going to do that if we win games. The pressure is on us to keep winning."