Group B favourites Belgium were unable to score as Wales extended their unbeaten start to four games with a hard-fought 0-0 draw at the King Baudouin Stadium.
Wales came under huge pressure and Belgium defender Nicolas Lombaerts struck a post in the first half. But Belgium looked as if they might find a way through in six minutes of stoppage time until Bale popped up in defence to clear a shot off the line.
“When you need him at the other end he’s saving one on his own line. He’s grown as a leader and that comes with being in stadiums and playing in front of 50-60,000 people,” said Coleman.
Elsewhere in Group B, Giorgios Efrem became the first player to score a hat-trick for Cyprus as they got their campaign back on track with a 5-0 triumph over Andorra. Giorgios Merkis and a Dimitris Christofi penalty completed the rout.
Goals from Gil Vermouth, Omer Damari and Eran Zahavi saw Israel see off 10-man Bosnia-Herzegovina 3-0.
In Group A, Holland thrashed Latvia 6-0 in Amsterdam. Captain Robin van Persie put Guus Hiddink’s side ahead after six minutes with his 48th international goal. Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben cracked home a second and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar netted a third from close range just before half-time.
Jeffrey Bruma scored with 12 minutes left. There was still time for Robben to lash in another, with Huntelaar adding a late sixth. There was a sour note for the Dutch though as Manchester United’s Daley Blind may have suffered ligament damage.
The Czech Republic came from a goal down to beat Iceland 2-1. Ragnar Sigurdsson put Iceland ahead but goals from Pavel Kaderabek and a Jon Dadi Boedvarsson own goal settled it.
Burak Yilmaz scored twice as Turkey beat Kazakhstan 3-1. Serdar Aziz got the other Turkish goal while Samat Smakov’s penalty was all the Kazakhs could muster.
In Group H, Italy drew 1-1 with Croatia. Antonio Candreva put Italy ahead on 11 minutes but Ivan Perisic equalised for the Croats.
The early kick off in Group H saw Norway win 1-0 in Azerbaijan through a header by Havard Nordtveit.
Bulgaria drew 1-1 with Malta. Andrey Galabinov put Bulgaria ahead but Clayton Failla equalised from the spot. Ivelin Popov later missed a penalty chance for Bulgaria.