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Bale makes early exit for Wales against England

AL RAYYAN, Qatar (AP) — Wales captain Gareth Bale was substituted at halftime of the team’s match against England at the World Cup on Tuesday because of an injury.

While it was unclear when Bale was hurt, it appeared he was struggling late in the first half of the team’s final Group B match. He was replaced by Brennan Johnson.

Wales went into the match at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium needing a victory for a chance to advance to the knockout round in the team’s first World Cup appearance since 1958.

The 33-year-old Bale, who made his senior debut with Wales in 2006, leads the team in all-time appearances with 111 and in goals with 41.

The forward came to Qatar dogged by questions about whether his time with the national team was coming to an end. Asked at the pre-match press conference, Bale curtly replied “Nope.”

Following the World Cup, the next match for Wales is a European Championship qualifier against Croatia in March.

But time seems to be catching up with Bale, who won five Champions League trophies over nearly a decade at Real Madrid. He now plays for Los Angeles FC.

Bale helped Wales reach the Euro 2016 semifinals before the team lost to eventual champion Portugal. Wales qualified for last year’s pandemic-delayed Euro 2020, where it lost to Denmark in the round of 16.

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AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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