Robert Page says Wales remain outsiders to qualify for the World Cup’s knockout stages after a dramatic opening day of Group B action.
England took early control of the section by thrashing Iran 6-2 before Wales had to rely on captain Gareth Bale to salvage a 1-1 draw against the United States.
Bale, who moved level with Chris Gunter on 109 caps – the record for the Wales men’s national team – cancelled out Timothy Weah’s first-half strike from the penalty spot eight minutes from time after Tim Ream had clattered into him.
Wales boss Page said: “Look at the pool of players England have got, it was a big ask for Iran to get anything out of the game.
“England are favourites, USA are second favourites. But there will be a few surprises along the way.
“We’re just planning for a tough game on Friday (against Iran) and that takes us into the last game against England.”
Wales’ first match at the World Cup for 64 years – the longest wait of any nation between successive appearances at the tournament – looked like turning into a damp squib after a first half that the USA completely dominated.
Joe Rodon almost headed into his own goal and Josh Sargent struck a post before Chelsea forward Christian Pulisic freed Weah, who converted in clinical style.
Wales failed to lay a glove on the USA in a one-sided first half, but the introduction of Kieffer Moore after the break changed the course of the contest.
Page said: “We just needed to be braver on the ball. I’m not sure if it was the occasion, first game nerves.
“When you have (Aaron) Ramsey, (Harry) Wilson and (Ethan) Ampadu, you want them on the ball.
“I wanted them to be braver on the ball and we were a lot better in the second half.
“Lessons have been learned. We didn’t have to win the game, but it was important we didn’t lose it.
“We got the goal and I thought if anyone was going to win the game in the last 10 minutes it would be us.”
— Wales 🏴 (@Cymru) November 21, 2022
Page believes Wales’ extra squad depth will serve them well for the remainder of the tournament.
He said: “The good thing we’ve got, if you look on the bench now, we’ve got Brennan (Johnson) playing in the Premier League.
“He came on and made an impact, Kieffer came on and made an impact.
“We have strength in depth, I can look over my shoulder to the bench and we’ve got players who can come on and have a real impact on games.”
Yesterday was the toughest news I’ve ever had to face and that was listening to my mum tell me my grandad past away last night😓 to go from crying all day to start in a World Cup game was extremely tough but I got through it from the support of my team mates and family❤️🕊 pic.twitter.com/3pcxl0C3Qc
— Neco Williams (@necowilliams01) November 21, 2022
Wing-back Neco Williams shared some sad news after the game and dedicated the point to his grandfather, who died on Sunday.
He wrote on Twitter: “Yesterday was the toughest news I’ve ever had to face and that was listening to my mum tell me my grandad passed away last night.
“To go from crying all day to start in a World Cup game was extremely tough but I got through it from the support of my team-mates and family.
“So I dedicate that game and a important point to him.”