Thursday, December 2, 2021

Wales 5-1 Belarus: Main Talking Points As The Dragons Move Clear In Second Place

Tom Dunstan in Editorial, World Cup 14 Nov 2021

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Knowing that they had to avoid a banana skin on Saturday night, Wales breezed their way to a routine victory in Cardiff as Robert Page’s side landed a thumping 5-1 win against Belarus.

With Aaron Ramsey opening the scoring with just a couple of minutes on the clock, the Dragons couldn’t have asked for an easier night’s work in south Wales as they inched closer to a second place finish.

Asked very few questions and backed by a vocal home support, Saturday’s hosts know the importance of wrapping up a silver medal finish in Group E after Belgium beat Estonia to clinch top spot.

On a night that saw one of their favourite sons reach another international milestone, we have taken a look at the major talking points as Page’s side ran rampant in Cardiff.

Ramsey inspires rampant Wales

Signing off October’s international fixtures with what now looks like a vital 1-0 victory away in Estonia, fans around south Wales were more than aware that their side could not afford any kind of slip up.

However, while Wales might have just about managed to secure an action-packed 3-2 win when they faced off against Belarus in the reverse fixture back on September 5th, the Dragons hardly had to get out of second gear on Saturday night.

Watching Ramsey tap the ball into an empty net with only a couple of minutes on the clock, Page’s side didn’t have to wait long to double their lead as Liverpool’s Nico Williams saw his effort sneak under Syarhey Chernik.

With Danny Ward almost a spectator in Wales’ goal, Ramsey got the Dragons’ second-half off to an almost identical start as he converted from the spot to wrap up all three points just five minutes after the restart.

Really enjoying what was an almost party atmosphere in the Cardiff City Stadium, one of Page’s veterans managed to bag his first ever international strike as Ben Davies saw his scruffy header find a way across the line.

Although Belarus’ second-half sub Artem Kontsevoi might have cost Wales a clean sheet with a stunning 20-yard strike, Connor Roberts quickly added a fifth as his poked effort squeezed in the near post.

Landmark night for Bale

Although Ramsey might have bagged himself a brace, there is no doubt that another one of Wales’ faviroute sons stole most of the headlines on Saturday night.

While he might have failed to get himself on the scoresheet in south Wales, Gareth Bale reached another milestone on home soil on what would have been an emotional night for the Real Madrid superstar.

Despite dealing with a host of injury issues since returning to Spain over the summer, the 32-year-old collected his 100th cap for the Dragons, becoming just the second player to do so behind Chris Gunter.

Picking up an assist for Williams’ first-half strike, Bale did show glimpses as to why he has once again been linked with a potential return to Tottenham in January.

However, although Wales’ attacking talisman might have made his return from a two-month stint on the sidelines, there would have been some concerns when he didn’t come back out for the second-half.

Reportedly picking up a calf issue, there is no doubt that both Page and Wales will be desperate for that to be nothing more than a minor niggle.

All eyes on Tuesday

While Belgium’s 3-1 win against Estonia on Saturday might have officially brought an end to Wales’ outside chance of clinching top spot in Group E, Page’s side still know that face one final test in midweek.

Opening up Tuesday’s meeting against the European heavyweights needing a single point to mathematically see off third place Czech Republic, the Dragons still have plenty left to play for.

Thankfully for the British side, after topping their Nations League group last year, Wales are already guaranteed a play-off place, but to have any chance of a home draw, they must finish second in their World Cup qualifying group.

Likely to be boosted by their rampant display in south Wales on Saturday, Page’s squad can take heart from the fact they have won two of their past three matches against the world’s number one-ranked side.

Match Report:

Wales: Ward, Ampadu, Rodon, Davies, Williams, Roberts, Ramsey, Allen, Wilson, James, Bale

Subs: Hennessey, Johnson, Roberts, Morrell

Belarus: Chernik, Shvetsov, Naumov, Yudenkov, Pechenin, Selyava, Yablonski, Klimovich, Zolotov, Sedko, Lisakovich

Subs: Ebong, Yuzepchuk, Kontsevoy, Antilevski, Bakhar

Goals: Wales: Ramsey 2′, 50′, N Williams 20′, Davies 77′, Roberts 89′ – Belarus: Kontsevoy 87′

Yellow Cards: Wales: Ampadu – Belarus: Ebong, Zolotov, Antilevski

Red Cards: N/A

Referee: Maurizio Mariani

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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