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Wales win their group and sail in to League A : Exclusive Pictures and Report
Thursday, 19th Nov 2020 11:12

A tough and bold display from Wales last night ensured they won their group and disposed of Finland in a high tempo game winning 3-1.

Again with Ryan Giggs absent Robert Page took the reigns as Wales went for the win from the off in this Nations League encounter. In Giggs' absence, Wales claimed wins over Republic of Ireland and Finland to ensure they finished at the summit of their Nations League group having claimed 16 of the 18 points on offer. As a result of finishing first, Wales gained promotion into League A for the next edition of the competition while also virtually guaranteeing themselves a World Cup play-off spot should they need it. And Page has revealed Giggs is "proud" of the way the players handled the current camp in his absence. "Absolutely. I am extremely proud of that group of players, as is Ryan," said Page.

Off you go son, Uronen is sent off

I spoke Baleo [Gareth Bale], Chris Gunter, Ben Davies before he left, Wardy [Danny Ward] and the senior players have been exceptional. "They have not let the standards drop. We started this together and we finished it all together. "I was proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with them tonight and get the job done." And when asked if he had spoken to Giggs after the triumph over Finland, Page responded: "Of course, yeah, straight away at the end of the game. "He is extremely proud of the players and how they've gone about their business and how they've handled the camp. "To show the resilience which they've shown and to win the group in the manner in which they've done, he is a very very proud man."

Key Man Dan
After struggling for form at Manchester United, Daniel James gave a timely reminder of his quality in Wales’ Nations League victory over Finland. James joined United from Swansea City in 2019 and hit the ground running with three goals in his first four games for the Red Devils. However, the winger hasn’t scored in the Premier League since August 2019 and has fallen down the pecking order at Old Trafford. He continues to impress on international duty and was named in Wales’ starting Xl against Finland. After Harry Wilson gave Wales the lead, James unleashed an unstoppable strike into the top corner from 20 yards in the 46th minute. James then provided the assist for Kieffer Moore’s goal as Wales secured promotion to the top tier of the Nations League, but we were still talking about his goal by that point.

James screamer put the tie in Wales favour

Match Details
Finland were without suspended skipper Tim Sparv and striker Joel Pohjanpalo, who broke an ankle during Sunday's 2-1 win in Bulgaria. The visitors appeared anxious from the start with Daniel O'Shaughnessy's fifth-minute error allowing Bale a shooting opportunity from a tight angle which goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky smothered. Uronen's dismissal tipped the scales firmly Wales' way, but O'Shaugnessy should have done better when left unmarked at a corner. Hradecky was a busy figure tipping away Rhys Norrington-Davies' swirling cross and denying Bale from point-blank range after James had delivered a delightful cross. But Welsh pressure was rewarded when Bale stole away from Joona Toivio and slipped in Wilson who finished in clinical fashion for his fourth international goal, and his first on home soil.

Moore scored Wales third v Finland

Wales' previous four Nations League wins had been by a 1-0 margin, and this was the first time they had scored two in a game since beating Hungary 2-0 to reach Euro 2020 almost a year ago to the day. Bale was withdrawn just after the hour mark with Wales seemingly in cruise control, but Finland had hope when Pukki found space in the penalty area to fire home. Ward saved smartly from Nicholas Hamalainen and Toivio fired wide as Finland chased an unlikely equaliser amid a few Welsh wobbles. But Moore headed home James' cross to put the issue beyond doubt, and Finland knew it was not their night when Pukki struck a post moments later.

Roy Keane on Wales win
Roy Keane was impressed with Tottenham forward Gareth Bale and Liverpool academy product Harry Wilson last night after they helped Wales record a 3-1 win against Finland in the UEFA Nations League. The former Premier League winner labelled Tottenham’s summer signing as a ‘brilliant’ player and someone who is ‘getting sharper’ the more he plays. Wilson opened the scoring for his country on home soil when Bale played the on-loan Cardiff man through on goal and he slotted the ball into the back of the net.

Bales chance in the first half, superbly saved

Keane labelled talents such as Wilson as ‘exciting’ and he was mightily impressed with the play involving both Bale and his left-footed counterpart from Liverpool during that opening passage. “They have got some young and exciting talent,” said Keane. “They have, of course, got a brilliant player in Bale, who seems to be getting sharper with more minutes under his belt. I loved this goal [Wilson’s opener]. Bale’s gets a break of the ball, it’s the run from Wilson [from the edge of the box into the penalty area] brilliant, outstanding and lovely weight of pass. Beautiful. I can watch that all night. Fantastic.”

Wales reached the semi-finals of the Euros in France last time out and you won’t bet against them causing problems again. With the young talent at their disposal, their strong performances in defence and Bale at the helm, they are going to be mightily dangerous.

The great news for the Welsh fanbase is that by the time the Euros hit our screens, Bale should be at his best, both performance and fitness-wise, whilst players such as Wilson are benefiting from getting some much-needed minutes under their belts, rather than just sitting on the bench at their parent club.

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Photo: Action Images

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