Unconvincing Wales Keep Hopes Alive

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar September 9, 2019 08:13

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Unconvincing Wales Keep Hopes Alive

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By Satish Sekar at Cardiff City Stadium © Satish Sekar (September 6th 2019)

Just

After a disappointing summer campaign, Ryan Giggs saw his young Wales team keep their hopes of qualification for Euro 2020 alive. Wales beat Azerbaijan, rated 109 in the recent FIFA World rankings – just.

A late Gareth Bale header, and laughable freak own goal by Ukrainian-born Pavel Pashaev that couldn’t be repeated in a thousand attempts, Mahir Emreli shock response for the Azerbaijanis gave Wales a 2-1 win.

Conner Roberts admitted that it was not a great performance, but the win was the most important.

Unconvincing

The opening was extremely fortunate by any standard. After 26 minutes Bale’s attempted pass hit the nearby Anton Krivostyuk and looped up into the area where it hit Pashaev’s back, wrong-footing keeper Salahat Agaev.

Wales took the lead into half time. Just before the hour-mark, a catastrophic error by Neil Taylor gifted possession to the Azeris. Emreli latched on to Ramil Sheydaev’s through-ball. Wayne Hennessey parried first shot to the centre, but Emreli netted the rebound.

With less than five minutes remaining Joe Allen’s blocked shot looped up for Bale to head in the winner, despite attempts to clear it off the line.

Azerbaijan, yet to win a point, were stubborn opponents. The predicted avalanche never looked likely. Joe Roden, making his debut, was unable to convert Harry Wilson’s second minute free-kick at the far post.

Technology?

It’s not being used in the qualification matches, but thee were a few incidents that showed why it was needed,
Wilson, undoubtedly a very talented player, was fortunate that officials missed his apparent stamp on a prone Richard Almeida after a tangle for the ball 17 minutes into the match.

There were three penalty shouts – two involving Joe Allen. He appealed for them, but wasn’t worried that they were not given. The other was Gara Garayev’s challenge on Wilson.

Roberts was more bothered about Bale’s goal, admitting that he would have wanted technology to be used if it hadn’t been given.

But VAR’s a double-edged sword – Wilson’s tussle with Almeida could also have been reviewed. But points in the bag,

Precarious

Wales can now experiment against Belarus while the other contenders play each other.

Also, in Group E, beaten World Cup Finalist, Croatia, beat Slovakia 4-0. Hungary and Slovakia play in Budapest on Monday – Wales have a friendly against Belarus – and Croatia travel to Baku to play Azerbaijan.

Midway through qualification Croatia and Hungary have 9 points, with Slovakia and Wales three points adrift.

Azerbaijan have yet to claim a point.

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar September 9, 2019 08:13