Ryan Giggs had conceded Gareth Bale’s shortage of game time at Real Madrid would have ramifications and the forward was withdrawn at the interval before Wales clinched victory in Finland on their return to the Nations League.
It was apt that Kieffer Moore, who has thrived since making his Wales debut last year, continued his impressive goalscoring form on a night when Giggs handed more new faces a chance to impress.
Moore converted a fine cross by Daniel James, who surged down the left flank 10 minutes from time to lay on the only goal. Bale was replaced at half-time by Harry Wilson, the week after Giggs admitted his captain was not ready to “bang out two 90 minutes in a short space of time”, but an experimental Wales side made a dream start nevertheless.
Shane Duffy is a bit downbeat, given the stoppage-time equaliser and stuff:
It was nice to get a goal at the end but overall a little bit disappointed. So it was a bittersweet moment. I probably took the blame for [their goal] myself, it was sloppy defending, I didn’t get in quick enough and they punished us. Hopefully I can put it behind me, and the more games I get under my belt I’ll get stronger and fitter. But overall, a disappointing result. I do think we were the better team. The chances they got were more down to sloppy play or our sloppy passes. I think we had a lot of possession and we have a few chances, but we want to win every game and try and get going with this team. It was important we didn’t lose the game, and that’s positive, and the attitude of the lads, we kept going til the end. Early days under the new manager, it’ll take a little bit of time, but we’ll keep trying.the guardian
Michael Boyd picks me up on my description of Hungary’s goal.“Distances can be judged by how the pitch is mowed,” he notes. “The pitch appears to have six-yard segments (look at the penalty area and the six yard box). The free kick is in the middle of the third segment outside the area (and a little outside the keeper’s right hand post) – that would imply that it is about 33 yards from goal. A great goal but not a 40-yarder.” Yes, OK, the free-kick wasn’t from 40 yards out. I just felt describing the distance as “30-odd yards”, while perhaps a little more factual, underplayed its awesomeness.
I know what you’re thinking: Faroe Islands 3-2 Malta? True, the last you heard Malta were 2-1 up, but Andreas Olsen equalised in the 87th minute and Brandur Hendriksson won it with a last-minute free-kick!
All the final scores!
The games have all now finished, and this is how they ended:
League A, Group 4
Germany 1-1 Spain
Ukraine 2-1 Switzerland
League B, Group 3
Russia 3-1 Serbia
Turkey 0-1 Hungary
League B, Group 4
Bulgaria 1-1 Republic of Ireland
Finland 0-1 Wales
League C, Group 3
Moldova 1-1 Kosovo
Slovenia 0-0 Greece
League D, Group 1
Faroe Islands 3-2 Malta
Latvia 0-0 Andorra