The Real Madrid striker, who has barely played this season, scored twice at the Cardiff City Stadium on another famous night in one of the most notable careers of any British footballer to play the game.
A peripheral figure in the Spanish capital this season, Bale continues to deliver for Wales and his double in the play-off semi-final took his all-time goals record for the national team to 38.
He surely didn’t score better than the 25th minute free kick with his left foot which flew over the defensive wall and swerved just inside the near post, almost under the crossbar.
His second strike was also of the highest quality, as Bale met a low cross into the penalty area with a touch and – while facing goal – a rising shot around the corner which flew into the far corner .
Marcel Sabitzer’s 64th-minute effort, which deflected off the outstretched boot of Welsh defender Ben Davies, gave Austria hope, but the Welsh held on as they closed in on a second participation in a World Cup, and a first since 1958.
Wales will host Scotland or Ukraine – the other two teams in Path A of the qualifiers – for a place in the tournament in Qatar in November and December. Their semi-final match was postponed to June due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The final is also scheduled for that month.
Bale linked up with his Wales team-mates this week after playing around 80 minutes of club football since August.
He was replaced in stoppage time by a standing ovation against Austria.
Additional AP Reports