International football made its long-awaited and welcome return in September 2020 as the second edition of the UEFA Nations League kicked-off for Cymru in Helsinki.

Competing against Finland, Bulgaria and the Republic of Ireland in League B4, Ryan Giggs' side were determined to go one better this time around having narrowly missed out on promotion to Denmark in the inaugural competition of this popular new addition to the international calendar. Sadly, the pandemic meant the side would have to do it without the support of the Red Wall.

Opening the campaign against Finland in what was Cymru's first match since November 2019 when a 2-0 victory over Hungary in Cardiff had ensured EURO qualification, Kieffer Moore proved to be the hero as he capitalised on a Daniel James cross in the final 10 minutes of a tense affair in the Finnish capital. As always, the manager also had one eye on the future, and the match marked the competitive debuts of Dylan Levitt, Neco Williams and Ben Cabango as the trio were introduced from the bench.

But merely making his international debut wasn't enough for Williams, and a few days later the talented Liverpool teenager scored the winning goal against Bulgaria in Cardiff. His late header from a Jonny Williams cross deep into injury time maintained Cymru's perfect start to the campaign. “It wasn’t easy today,” said Giggs after the match. “But Neco has bought a new energy to the group, and I’m delighted that he got the goal.”

Aaron Ramsey returned from injury and captained the side in Dublin the following month, but even the presence of the Juventus midfielder failed to make a positive influence in a forgettable 0-0 draw. One highlight however was a clean sheet for Wayne Hennessey on the day he eclipsed Neville Southall's Cymru appearance record for a goalkeeper. It seemed that a similar result would follow in Sofia a few days later, but Jonny Williams picked the perfect time to score his first international goal with a fine finish late in the game to earn his side a valuable victory. However, Hennessey's injury brought his campaign to an end.

“It was an amazing moment,” explained Williams. “I've always wondered if I'd ever get a goal but here we are. We always knew that if we kept going we'd get the win, we did just that and everyone's happy. The boys in the back were brilliant, and if we can keep more clean sheets we can win more games. It was always the aim to top the group and we've given ourselves a great chance now.”

With two home games remaining in November, Cymru made the most of their position of strength at the top of the group, registering a 1-0 win over the Republic of Ireland through a solitary goal from David Brooks. With Rob Page in temporary charge, the momentum of the victory continued as Finland were defeated 3-1 with a confident display on the final day. Harry Wilson, Daniel James and Kieffer Moore were on target, Cymru remained undefeated, and the side will now take their place at the top table of League A when the competition returns next year.

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now