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Wales players and fans celebrate after the match.CARL RECINE/Reuters

After a more-than-six-decade wait, Wales finally took to the pitch in a World Cup match for the first time since 1958, to the jubilant sounds of thousands of red-clad supporters who have travelled with the team to Qatar.

But historical occasions bring with them historical amounts of pressure, and Wales seemed to bend to it Monday, bossed around the pitch by an aggressive Team USA, only clawing back a draw thanks to a penalty in the dwindling minutes of the game.

The Americans dominated the match throughout the first half, and were finally rewarded with a goal from winger Timothy Weah in the 36th minute, after a superb pass by Christian Pulisic cut through the Welsh defence.

The Welsh players struggled to reply, seeming overawed by the occasion, as at times did their fans, largely silent as chants of “U-S-A” rebounded around the stadium, which shook with the stamping of the American crowd.

Gareth Bale of Wales celebrates scoring past Matt Turner of the United States.CLIVE MASON/Getty Images

Wales returned much stronger in the second half, however, and it was the team’s talismanic captain, Gareth Bale, who earned one of the biggest cheers of the night, putting a penalty in the back of the net for his 41st Welsh goal and first in a World Cup.

Around 43,000 fans had made the trip to the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, in the Doha suburbs. The crowd seemed largely split between Americans and Welsh, with a smattering of empty seats across the stadium and few Qataris obviously in attendance, perhaps owing to the 10 p.m. local-time kickoff. This game was one of several late starts in this tournament, that will benefit European and North American fans but test the commitment of locals.

Wales has one of the largest contingents of fans at this World Cup, a reflection of a sentiment among some that this might be their only opportunity to attend such a tournament. But for many, the excitement of watching their country has been tinged by discomfort with doing so in Qatar, given the emirate’s treatment of migrant workers and criminalization of homosexuality.

“If this wasn’t the first time we’ve qualified in 64 years, I wouldn’t be here,” Wales fan Hayley Ashman said ahead of Monday’s match. “If we were supporting England, I wouldn’t be here.”

Her father Chris said that while his daughter “is young enough to go to another tournament, I might not be. It’s difficult to miss.”

At the nearby Rawdat Al Jahhaniya fan park, brothers Nick, Jonathan and Brett Davis agreed.

“You’re trying to balance your conscience and your love of Welsh football,” Nick Davis said. “Because it’s the first one in 64 years, it’s a lot harder for Wales fans to say ‘Oh, we’ll go to the next one.’ ”

All expressed anger at FIFA’s decision to force European captains to drop plans to wear pro-LGBTQ armbands, by threatening to give them yellow cards. “It’s absolutely ridiculous,” Ms. Ashman said. But given the captains could face being banned from matches after two yellows, she said, “I understand why they would back down, being threatened that way.”

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The players were not the only ones affected: Rainbow Wall, the Welsh LGBTQ fan organization, said some fans had rainbow hats confiscated from them by security at the stadium.

FIFA has openly hoped, even predicted, that once the football starts the political criticism will fade. But a sense of disquiet is palpable with many fans in Qatar, as well as anger over football’s governing body for putting them in this position.

“This problem has absolutely been created by FIFA. Qatar should not have gotten the tournament to begin with,” American Austin Schelby said. “But at the end of the day, we’re here to watch football.”

Kathryn Cehrs, a soccer fan from California, said she felt there was little supporters like her could really do, short of not watching, which for many feels akin to letting their team down.

“We want to watch football, and this what comes with it – it sucks,” she said.