Group B minnows Andorra, who are 199th in the FIFA rankings, may not have won a competitive match for a decade, but Wales had to contend with a controversial 3G pitch and the award of a debatable penalty which left them playing catch-up from as early as the fifth minute.
In the end Wales had to rely on the brilliance of Real Madrid star Bale who scored twice to become Wales' joint top-scorer in European Championship competition, including the marvellous late 25-yard free-kick strike which proved to be the winner.
It wasn't the greatest of starts but we showed true character to keep going and come back like that. They set up to defend but it was a good team performance. Yeah, you are thinking the worst (when Andorra scored) but we knew we had enough time to show our ability and the character in the squad.
Bale was thrust into a forward role with Wales manager Chris Coleman concerned about the effect the artificial surface would have on his ability to run with the ball from wide areas.
Pellets from the pitch's rubber crumb base were disturbed when the ball travelled across the surface and Coleman said later that it was not up to the standard required for a European Championship qualifier.
"This is by far the worst (pitch) I've ever played on," Bale said. "I can't describe how bad, bobbly and hard the pitch was to deal with, but we said at the start that the most important thing was to get three points and that's what we did. Other teams are going to find it difficult coming here so for us to get three points is important.
"We want to qualify and you have to come to places like this and get victories. This gives us confidence for what's ahead and now the next game is another final."