'Bale didn't dive, there was contact' - Maloney takes responsibility for penalty

The Scotland midfielder admits that the two players' legs came together and, despite not making a challenge, believes that the much maligned Wales winger didn't con the referee
Scotland midfielder Shaun Maloney has defended Gareth Bale and admitted that he may have made contact with the Wales winger in the incident which led to the equaliser in his side's 2-1 loss on Friday.

Chris Coleman's team came from a goal down to win the fiercely contested qualifier but the post-match reaction centered around the hosts' equaliser from the penalty spot.

Maloney cleared the Tottenham man of taking a dive and apologised to his Scottish team-mates for his challenge which all but puts Craig Levein's side's hopes of reaching World Cup 2014 near to ruin.

"The penalty decision swung the game in their favour and I feel awful about that. I think there might have been a bit of contact, to be fair to Bale," he told The Daily Record.

33/1 Wales are 33/1 with PaddyPower to qualify for World Cup 2014
16/1 Scotland are 16/1 with PaddyPower to qualify for World Cup 2014

"It wasn't a challenge as such, he just ran across me and part of his legs touched mine. I don't think he dived. It was just a coming-together.

"I haven't seen it again but I have to be honest – my gut feeling was that he didn't dive. I'm pretty sure I didn't put a challenge in but I think there was some contact.

"It happened numerous times in the game. I tried to track back and help Danny Fox, as that was my job on the night. It's just unfortunate that this one time he got in front of me and when he ran across me he ended up winning the penalty.

"I can only apologise to my team-mates. It's just one of these things that can happen in a match. But it's devastating after the effort that everyone put in and it's something I'm going to regret for a very long time."

Wales manager Coleman also came out in defence of his star player, whom he believes has wrongly picked up a reputation for diving.

He told reporters: "Don't get me wrong, I don't like to see anybody diving. The finger has been pointed at Gareth once or twice but I don't think he dived tonight. I thought he was running at great pace in the box.

"And watch the expression on Maloney's face because he knows there's been a little bit of contact. There's no reason for Gareth to go down because he's either going to square it or shoot, so I don't think there's a question of that [diving] tonight."