Gareth Bale made his Major League Soccer (MLS) debut as a 72nd-minute substitute for Los Angeles FC in a 2-1 win at Nashville SC.

The Wales forward impressed with his first touch, making a backheel pass five minutes after replacing goalscorer Cristian Arango.

Bale, who turned 33 on Saturday, also won a free-kick.

“It felt amazing,” said Bale, “as soon as I got on the bench I wanted to try to get on and help the team.”

“It’s important also for me individually that I get my fitness going. Obviously it’s the end of the season in Europe, so [it was] good to get some minutes and more importantly get three points.

“It was kind of an important time to come into the game. It wasn’t one of those where you need to go and score goals. We had to try to keep the ball, run the clock down in a way and try to be sensible.

“We kept the ball well, we made it difficult for them. The most important thing in football is getting the three points and we’re all happy with that.”

Bale – who signed for LAFC on a free transfer from Real Madrid, with an option to stay for the 2024 season – has dismissed the notion he has only gone to MLS in order to be fit for Wales at the World Cup in Qatar later this year.

“I haven’t come here just to wind down,” he said.

“I want to try and contribute as much as I can to this team, try to win games and trophies and just do as much as I can.

“I’m excited to get my debut out of the way and hopefully I can just keep building my fitness and helping the team.”

Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini also made his debut in the game for LAFC who top the MLS Western Conference.

Their next games is at Kansas on Sunday, 24 July before a home game with Seattle on Saturday, 30 July.

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