The UEFA Nations League was created in order to make for more international games throughout the year, when the traditional breaks in domestic football occur. Based on this game it seems as if they’re off to a pretty good start, with Wales efficiently dispatching of the Irish in Ryan Giggs’ first home game as manager of the national team.
Both of these nations were aiming to make a statement after failing to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and it was the Welsh who got their campaign for UEFA Euro 2020 off to the best possible start.
Ireland looked out of their depth from the word go, with the Euro 2016 semi-finalists stretching their legs early on with Tom Lawrence smashing them into the lead just after the five minute mark.
Gareth Bale then showcased why he’s still considered to be one of the best players in world football with a delightful finish, before Aaron Ramsey made it three before the half time whistle had even blown. The game served as a huge reality check to an Ireland side who had actually defeated Wales in a major World Cup qualifier just one year prior – at the very same stadium.
Let them dream
Connor Roberts made it four in the second half as Wales began to take their foot off the pedal, with a Ramsey error allowing for Shaun Williams to ensure that Ireland at least got on the scoresheet before the game came to an end.
The visitors will be desperate to get back to the drawing board in order to adjust and figure out what exactly went wrong, but for Welsh fans, they would’ve gone to bed knowing that this new era with Giggs at the helm could be a big deal for them. Of course, one game isn’t going to determine the course of their entire season, but it’s still worth noting the carnival atmosphere in Cardiff last night.
It wasn’t something that they’d seen in a while, and it’s important to realise what they’re capable of as a nation when the fans really get behind them.
Wales: Hennessey (7), Roberts (7), Williams (6.5), Mepham (6.5), Davies (6), Allen (6.5), Ampadu (7), Lawrence (7), Ramsey (7.5), Brooks (6.5), Bale (7.5)
Ireland: Randolph (6), Coleman (6.5), Duffy (6), Clark (6), Ward (5.5), Christie (6), Hendrick (6), Hourihane (6), O’Dowda (6.5), Walters (6), Robinson (6.5)
Referee: Clément Turpin
Goals: Lawrence, Bale, Ramsey, Roberts :: Williams
Yellow Cards: Clark
Red Cards: N/A
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