Rob Page 'on top of the world' as Wales' win 'highlight of coaching career'

Credit: PA

Rob Page says he's feeling "on top of the world" and has described Wales' World Cup qualifying win over Austria as the highlight of his coaching career.

Gareth Bale fired Wales to a 2-1 victory over Austria on Thursday night, leaving the team in sight of their first appearance in the world cup for 64 years.

Bale produced two stunning strikes - one in each half - before Wales had to endure anxious moments after Marcel Sabitzer’s deflected effort halved the deficit.

But Wales held on and the dream to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1958 lives on.

Gareth Bale scored two goals for Wales Credit: PA

In a post match interview, the Wales manager said he was "really proud" of his players.

He said: "We've just sat to have lunch and watched the first goal back and just burst out laughing because it's one of the best free kicks I've ever seen. It's phenomenal.

"I thought the occasion was excellent, I thought the supporters were outstanding last night and they certainly helped us get the job done.

"Looking back and reflecting on it - the absolute highlight of my coaching and managerial career so far, without a doubt."

Wales will now play Scotland or Ukraine for a place at the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar.

Looking ahead to the next match, Page said it was important not to "get carried away" and to think too much about qualifying.

Wales manager Rob Page 'over the moon' with the win

"We never mentioned it once. We didn't speak about world cup play-offs", he said.

"We just spoke about Austria and the threat they pose - it was full focus on them. It will be no different now in the build up to June.

"We've got some other big games as well in Holland and Belgium and Poland so the build up will be exactly the same as we've done this week."

"Of course" we can dream, he said but "we have to keep our feet firmly on the floor."

Page added: "If we get carried away with it, we'll get complacent and we'll let it slip. We're that close now, we're not going to allow that to happen."

That play-off semi-final is now expected to be played in June, with the final set to follow later the same month.

Wales are through to the world cup play-off final Credit: PA

Real Madrid forward Bale had missed Sunday’s El Clasico with Barcelona but was fit to win his 101st for his country.

With his 33rd birthday fast approaching, this year’s World Cup acts as the last chance of him appearing on football’s biggest stage.

There were joyous scenes when the victory was secured, and a delighted Bale said on Sky Sports: “It was a massive game. We knew coming into it, we spoke yesterday about how big the game is and we have to perform, we have to dig in deep to look into our experience in big games. It’s a perfect scenario.”

Aaron Ramsey Credit: PA

With Wales now only one victory from a place at the World Cup finals, Aaron Ramsey said: “It means everything. Playing in front of these, what more can you want. We’re one game away from the World Cup, which is everything, for myself, for Bale, for the nation.

“For the group of lads, this is what we want. We’ve come a very long way since the early days and this would just be the icing on the cake. We know there’s still a little bit of work to be done but we can enjoy tonight.”