Bale now just 4 goals behind Rush's record
CARDIFF, UNITED KINGDOM
GARETH Bale scored two goals and created another as Euro 2016 sensation Wales crushed Moldova 4-0 in their opening 2018 World Cup qualifier in Cardiff on Monday.
The Real Madrid forward teed up Sam Vokes for a 38th-minute opener and then scored his 23rd and 24th international goals after Joe Allen had registered his first.
Chris Coleman's Wales reached the semi-finals at Euro 2016 before losing to eventual champions Portugal and are seeking to qualify for their first World Cup since 1958.
"We had to get off to a good start in the first game," said Wales manager Coleman.
"It was going to be tough and we had to be patient and disciplined, and we were."
Victory at the Cardiff City Stadium made Wales the early pace-setters in qualifying Group D, which also features Austria, Serbia, the Republic of Ireland and Georgia.
Wales tackle Austria in Vienna in their next game on Oct 6.
Bale, 27, is now the second-highest scorer in Wales history, four goals behind former Liverpool striker Ian Rush.
"We know these games are very difficult," Bale told Sky Sports.
"The teams can be difficult to break down but we're learning to cope with that sort of play.
"We enjoyed the past but it's history now and it's time to make some more."
Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey missed Wales' Euro semi-final defeat by Portugal through suspension and he was absent again against Moldova, this time due to a hamstring injury.
Ranked 165th in the world and having never reached a major tournament, Igor Dobrovolski's Moldova accepted the role of would-be party poopers with relish.
"If Wales had been so much better, I'd congratulate them," said the Moldova coach.
"But they scored four times because of our mistakes. In games like this, you can't make such childish mistakes." AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE