Published: September 07, 2019
Wales 2 Azerbaijan 1
Ryan Giggs had made it clear before this all-important qualifier that the Wales attack is not all about Gareth Bale. On this occasion, though, Giggs got it wrong. This was an ugly victory and a worrying performance, but it was a win all the same and it was a win provided by the man who does so much to lead the way for his national side.
Bale created the first goal, firing the shot which led to a comical own goal by Azerbaijan’s Pavlo Pashayev, and then struck the second as the desperation grew in Cardiff. Wales were far from effective and even further from impressive against a side ranked below the Faroe Islands and Libya, but they eventually claimed three points which keep alive their hopes of qualification for next year’s European Championships.
Of course, Bale had accomplices. Jonny Williams, on as a second-half substitute, helped to change the game. But the Real Madrid forward was yet again the central figure for his country, nodding home a vital winner with just a few minutes remaining of what had turned into an immensely troubling night for Giggs.
As Bale said on Thursday, things can turn quickly in football. They have certainly turned for him in these last few weeks, when he has found himself back in the Madrid side and back on the scoresheet again. They also turned quickly for Wales, who were essentially six minutes away from losing all realistic ambition of finishing in the top two of their group before Bale's intervention. source