UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE
As Cymru head into the second edition of the competition, here's a reminder of what happened during the first series of fixtures that culminated with Giggs' young squad narrowly missing out on promotion to League A.
Tom Lawrence opened the scoring inside the opening six minutes as he capitalised on a superb ball from Joe Allen, and Gareth Bale doubled the advantage 10 minutes later with a superb strike. Teenager Ethan Ampadu set up Aaron Ramsey for the the third just before half-time, and debutant Connor Roberts added the fourth following the restart with a fine volley. Ireland managed a consolation goal on the 66th minute as a rare mistake by Ramsey gifted Shaun Williams, and the midfielder slotted the ball past Wayne Hennessey to deny Cymru a clean sheet.
Ramsey and Bale both had chances to put Cymru ahead in the opening half of the match, while at the other end of the field, Thomas Delaney saw his shot go inches wide of Wayne Hennessey’s goal. Denmark created the breakthrough when Christian Eriksen dropped off the defence in the 18-yard box and placed the ball beyond Hennessey with a well-struck shot after 32 minutes. On the hour mark, Ampadu was penalised by German Referee Deniz Aytekin, who awarded a penalty for what he believed was a handball in the 18-yard box. Eriksen stepped up to the spot and sent Hennessey the wrong way to make it 2-0.
Despite a scrappy and largely forgettable opening half, a moment of magic from Harry Wilson eventually proved to be the difference between the two sides. On 58 minutes, Wilson struck a incredible free-kick past goalkeeper Darren Randolph to send the visiting fans wild. An inspirational performance from captain Ashley Williams ensured Cymru would maintain the lead despite a late wave of Irish pressure, and substitute George Thomas could have wrapped things up for Wales, but he was denied by Randolph from close range before the referee brought the match to a close.
The anticipation of a capacity crowd at the Cardiff City Stadium were boosted as Giggs selected an attacking starting line-up for this decisive match. It was an intense encounter and it was Denmark that took the lead through Nicolai Jorgensen. Cymru had chances through David Brooks, Tyler Roberts and Bale, but it was Martin Braithwaite sparked a breathless finale in the 88th minute as he fired the visitors into a 2-0 lead after his powerful shot beat Wayne Hennessey at the near post. Cymru responded in dramatic fashion, as a direct ball was launched forward to the feet of Bale. He beat the advancing Kasper Schmeichel and finished into the empty net. However, it was Denmark that held on for the win.