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 By PA Sport

Chris Coleman backs Gareth Bale to break Ian Rush's Wales goals record

Gareth Bale scored a pair of goals in Wales' 4-0 defeat of Moldova on Monday.
Gareth Bale moved within four goals of the Wales scored record on Monday.

Chris Coleman backed Gareth Bale to break Ian Rush's Wales scoring record in the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign after their flying start in the competition.

Wales eased to a 4-0 victory over Moldova in Cardiff in their opening qualifier with Bale scoring twice to take his Wales tally to 24.

It was the perfect homecoming for a Wales team whose exploits in reaching the semi-final of Euro 2016 this summer sent the nation into football frenzy.

And it was the perfect return for Bale, whose double took him past Ivor Allchurch and Trevor Ford on to 24 goals.

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"He will break it in this campaign," Wales manager Coleman said after Bale had moved within four of Rush's record with a sweet second-half finish and a stoppage-time penalty.

"If you look at Gareth's record in the last two years there is every chance it will happen.

"Gareth may not even know about it because he comes along and just fits in with the furniture.

"He will not think he has to do it, but there is every chance that can happen in the next nine games.

"It is a nightmare for opposition managers because he can change your life in an instant with one bit of skill."

Coleman had said before the game there was a "desperation" in the Wales camp to qualify for the World Cup in Russia after their achievements at the Euros.

"I said before we wouldn't rest on what we've done," said Coleman. "If we didn't have the same feeling here as I did two years or four years ago, that same hunger and desperation, then I wouldn't be here.

"It could have been difficult. The last time we were together we were in front of the world in the Euro 2016 semi-final and now we are starting again against a team we are expected to beat.

"It was a different challenge but we came through it and we're ready for nine more, with the next one always the most important and the biggest and we want it to snowball."

After their biggest competitive win since 2003, Wales have a double-header next month with a trip to Austria preceding a visit from Georgia. The two sides met in Georgia on Monday night with Austria winning 2-1.

"It will be pressure but we've handled it before and we can handle the expectation," Coleman said of the trip to Vienna. "We got through this and now next month is huge.

"We can still improve but we got the three points and now we look to the next test."

Moldova head coach Igor Dobrovolski said: "I am very disappointed because if Wales had played so much better I would have been able to understand it. But they scored four times because of our mistakes.

"Wales is lucky because Gareth Bale comes from your country and he is one of the best three players in the world. But you can not make mistakes on that level, they were childish mistakes.

"I am sure though that we will ruin the mood for some of the other teams."

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