Harry Wilson seals win over Azerbaijan to keep Wales in Euro 2020 hunt | Football


Ryan Giggs praised his Wales side for their solid victory against Azerbaijan in Baku that meant their efforts to qualify automatically for Euro 2020 will go down to wire.

Wales’s first away win in 13 months was secured by Kieffer Moore and Harry Wilson’s first-half goals and they now face Hungary in Cardiff on Tuesday in their final Group E qualifier. A win will take them to next summer’s finals.

Moore put Wales into a 10th-minute lead – the Wigan striker’s second goal in four appearances – before Wilson ended a 13-month wait to get on an international scoresheet with the simplest of headers.

The Wales defence was seldom troubled and key players Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey both had game time after injury and before Tuesday’s deciding match.

Wales had been guaranteed the cushion of a play-off spot in March by Sweden winning in Romania on Friday but did not hold back in their efforts to secure an automatic place. “The result was what counted, getting that was the priority,” Giggs said. “But some of the quality of the play was outstanding. It’s clear we’ve improved since the last Azerbaijan game in September.

“We’ve started to gain some momentum, which is not easy in international football. There was so much on the game that it’s up there with one of my best performances. Kieffer is a threat and we recognised they might be a bit weak at set pieces. We were pleased to get the big man on the scoresheet again.

“I thought the referee handled the game well and there were no silly fouls from us – going into Tuesday we wanted our best players available.”

Bale had not played for over a month after suffering a thigh injury but the Real Madrid forward got nearly an hour under his belt. Ramsey replaced him in the second-half to make his first Wales appearance in nearly a year.

“We’ve still got to assess them before Tuesday,” Giggs said. “Getting Gareth off pretty early and getting Aaron some minutes as well was important, When Aaron came on he showed his quality.

“It’s a quick turnaround and Gareth was blowing a little bit, which you can expect. But hopefully I’ll have the option to start both on Tuesday. We had to do our job, we’ve done it.”

On Wales’s upturn in form, Giggs added: “I would say we’ve had four good performances in a row, with the Belarus friendly. Slovakia and Croatia are top opposition and we played well. It’s what we needed after the two difficult games in the summer.

“We needed to be strong and we have been. We really dug in deep against Croatia. I wasn’t happy with the amount of corners we kept giving away here, but in open play they never really troubled us and we could have scored a few more goals as well.”

Azerbaijan have yet to win in Euro 2020 qualifying and have picked up only one point from seven matches. Their manager, Nikola Jurcevic, said: “Wales deserved to win this game because they were the better team.

“We conceded goals from set pieces, not for the first time against very big players. We had lots of set pieces but the big difference was that Wales were really dangerous from theirs.”


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