Section: Wales

Euro 2016 Qualifier: Israel 0-3 Wales

Wales leapfrogged Israel at the top of their Euro 2016 qualifying group as two goals from Gareth Bale inspired a hugely impressive win that leaves them well placed to reach next summer’s finals in France.

Manager Chris Coleman had described this match as Wales’ most important since the Euro 2004 play-off defeat by Russia in 2003.

And with three wins and two draws from their first five matches, this is Wales’ best start to a campaign since that ill-fated bid 12 years ago as they attempt to reach a first major finals since the 1958 World Cup.

Victory against an Israeli side who had won all three of their previous qualifiers must rank as the finest of Coleman’s three-year tenure.

The visitors had the better of the first half in Haifa and took a deserved lead as Aaron Ramsey headed in from Bale’s flick-on just before the break.

The Real Madrid star doubled their advantage with a superb, swerving free-kick from the edge of the area soon after the restart and, a minute later, Israel’s Eytan Tibi picked up a second booking for fouling Bale as Wales took control.

He then added a final gloss with a sweeping finish late on as Coleman’s side moved two points clear at the summit of Group B.

Wary of their in-form opponents and a hostile atmosphere at a packed Sammy Ofer Stadium, Coleman reverted to a 5-3-2 formation that allowed him to give Bale a roaming role in attack.

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Euro 2016 Qualifying: Belgium 0-0 Wales

Wales dug in for a gutsy goalless draw in Belgium to maintain their unbeaten start to their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.

Belgium bossed the first half as Nacer Chadli was denied by Wayne Hennessey and Nicolas Lombaerts hit a post.

But Wales defended stoically and had chances of their own after the interval as Gareth Bale shot narrowly wide.

The point briefly kept Wales top of Group B, before Israel took their place with a 3-0 win over Bosnia-Hercegovina.

Having made their best start to a campaign since winning their first four qualifiers for Euro 2004, Wales entered this match with renewed hope.

Despite the raised expectations, however, Chris Coleman’s men were undoubtedly the underdogs against a Belgian side fourth in the Fifa world rankings.

Welsh hopes rested on Bale, and it was no surprise that it was the world’s most expensive player who had the visitors’ first shot on target.

The Real Madrid forward unleashed a swerving free-kick from 25 yards, but it was palmed away by Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

The Chelsea man’s opposite number, Wayne Hennessey, was also called into action early on and made an excellent low save to deny Tottenham’s Nacer Chadli.

With another Chelsea player, Eden Hazard, a constant threat as he drifted infield from the left, Belgium began to dictate and put their opponents under pressure.

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Euro 2016 Qualifying: Wales 2-1 Cyprus

Wales clung on for a nerve-shredding win over Cyprus to remain top of their Euro 2016 qualifying group.

Wales appeared to be coasting as goals from David Cotterill and Hal Robson-Kanu – the latter a stylish team effort – gave them an early 2-0 lead.

But a goal from Vincent Laban and a red card for Wales midfielder Andy King gave Cyprus hope of claiming only their second victory in 16 matches.

A tactically disciplined display was enough, however, for a precious three points which gives Wales their best start to a qualifying campaign since 2002.

Wales made two change to the side that drew 0-0 with Bosnia-Hercegovina – Robson-Kanu replacing the injured Jonathan Williams and left-back Ben Davies making way for young Fulham winger George Williams – and the hosts were forced into another early alteration as Simon Church suffered a shoulder injury and had to be replaced by Cotterill.

And it was the substitute who gave Wales the lead as an inswinging cross from evaded its intended targets and bounced into the far corner.

While Cotterill’s opener was more than a touch fortuitous, Wales doubled their lead with a sumptuous team goal.

Gareth Bale’s delightful backheel set Robson-Kanu free for the Reading forward to slot the ball between the legs of Cyprus goalkeeper Tasos Kissas.

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At this point Wales were attacking at will, with Bale, Cotterill, Robson-Kanu and Williams all benefitting from loose Cypriot defending.

But, against the run of play, the visitors clawed themselves back into the tie as Laban’s floated free-kick evaded Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey and a handful of defenders on the line before nestling in the far corner.

The hosts’ slender advantage made for a nervy atmosphere at the Cardiff City Stadium, and the home crowd’s concerns grew when King was dismissed just two minutes after the restart for an ankle-high challenge on Cyprus captain Constantinos Makridis.

Having been in total command early in the game, Wales now faced the challenge of holding on to their lead with a man less for almost an entire half.

There were a couple of scares – George Efrem wasted Cyprus’s best chance as he headed over from close range – but Wales dug deep for a valuable victory which strengthens their grip on top spot in Group B.

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Euro 2016 Qualifying: Wales 0-0 Bosnia-Hercegovina

Wales fought out a goalless draw with Bosnia-Hercegovina to maintain their unbeaten start to their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.

Neither team played with much fluency in a ti

ght first half, but the match burst into life in a second period peppered with chances at both ends.

Home goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey produced several excellent saves to deny the visitors, while Wales were close to snatching a late winner through Ashley Williams and Gareth Bale.

After winning their previous match in Andorra 2-1 and with other results going their way, a draw was enough to take Wales to the top of Group B.

Chris Coleman’s side were backed by a vociferous crowd of 30,741 at the Cardiff City Stadium – though it also included a very vocal away following – a record attendance for an international fixture at the venue. They face Cyprus at the same ground on Monday.

Injuries had disrupted preparations for Wales, with Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen of Liverpool the most notable absentees.

Joe Ledley and Jonathan Williams were given the formidable task of replacing them – and containing a dangerous Bosnian midfield featuring Roma’s Miralem Pjanic.

Williams created the game’s first chance, as his corner was headed over by his namesake, captain Ashley Williams, in the seventh minute.

It was not long before Bale had his first effort on goal, latching on to a long pass from Ben Davies but sending a deft volley over the bar.

The Real Madrid winger was not as influential as usual, primarily because the world’s most expensive player was stalked everywhere he went by Everton’s Muhamed Besic.

As well as shackling the hosts’ main threat, Bosnia showed flashes of their own attacking potential in the first half with a couple of shots from distance from Pjanic.

And they were quickly on the front foot after the restart.

Hennessey had to make two excellent saves to deny Haris Medunjanin and captain Edin Dzeko, while the Crystal Palace keeper was well beaten by a Pjanic free-kick that curled narrowly wide.

The hosts had a glorious chance to take the lead against the run of play, but an unmarked Ashley Williams headed over from Bale’s free-kick.

That was the catalyst for a frantic finale, with Hennessey brilliantly saving a Pjanic free-kick and Bosnia goalkeeper Asmir Begovic producing the save of the night to palm away Bale’s fierce angled shot.

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Euro 2016 Qualifying: Andorra 1-2 Wales

Gareth Bale rescued a poor Wales, crashing home a late free-kick to overcome a stubborn Andorra side in their Euro 2016 qualification opener.

Andorra took an early lead on their artificial turf through an Ildefons Lima penalty after a Neil Taylor foul.

Real Madrid’s Bale headed home from Ben Davies’s cross before the break, but his side lacked inspiration with boss Chris Coleman booed by some away fans.

But Bale’s trademark dipping set-piece saved his manager more embarrassment.

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