International Friendlies
Wales1Belarus0

Wales 1-0 Belarus - Classy Daniel James gives Wales victory

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Excellent, but if I was greedy I'd want more goals - Wales boss Ryan Giggs

Daniel James' high-class finish gave Wales victory in their friendly against Belarus as Ryan Giggs' team claimed a fourth successive home win.

The winger has made a spectacular start to life at Manchester United after joining from Swansea City in the summer.

And James, 21, reproduced his club form on the international stage to hand Wales a deserved triumph.

In what is swiftly becoming a trademark move, the £15m United signing cut inside on to his right foot before curling the ball inside the far post.

Giggs had urged his players to build some momentum after the hard-earned Euro 2020 qualifying triumph over Azerbaijan on Friday.

They responded with a bright performance which should really have produced a more comfortable win - although just 7,666 fans were there to see it.

In the Cardiff City Stadium's 10-year history, only one game - the 2-1 defeat by Australia in 2011 - has attracted a smaller crowd.

Heading in the right direction?

Gareth Bale had two good chances to double Wales' lead after replacing scorer Daniel James
Gareth Bale had two good chances to double Wales' lead after replacing scorer Daniel James

Gareth Bale insisted going into this game that Wales are moving forward under Giggs, who has now won seven of his 15 games in charge.

After criticism of Wales' performance in the win over Azerbaijan, the Real Madrid forward said Giggs is trying to produce a national side who play quick, attacking football.

They struggled on that score last Friday, when Azerbaijan sat deep and Wales made hard work of breaking them down.

Even with the talismanic Bale watching from the bench until the 50th minute, it was a different story against Belarus.

Wales needed only 17 minutes to expose their opponents on the counter-attack.

There was a warning for Belarus early on when Joe Allen led a sharp Welsh break and Harry Wilson drove goalwards.

Goalkeeper Maksim Plotnikov made a decent save, but he was helpless when Joe Morrell fed Jonny Williams and he sent James scampering down the left.

James' shot left the Belarus keeper grasping thin air and his goal was comfortably the most memorable moment of the first half.

He made way for Bale as Wales' control of the contest continued, with Wilson going close when a short-corner routine ended with his cross-shot coming back off the far post.

Daniel James came off his left wing to beat Maskim Plotnikov in the far corner
Daniel James came off his left wing to beat Maskim Plotnikov in the far corner

Kieffer Moore then headed wide before Bale missed when he looked certain to score having been picked out by Wilson.

As Bale pointed out, of course, the key objective is to claim a place at Euro 2020 - and what happened here will have little impact on that front.

But this was a positive performance and a step in the right direction, albeit a small one.

A steady night for new faces

Giggs made five changes to the side which began the Azerbaijan game, with Wayne Hennessey, Neil Taylor, Ethan Ampadu, Tom Lawrence and Bale dropping out.

In their place came Danny Ward, Ben Davies, Jonny Williams and two debutants, Morrell and Moore.

A low-key occasion this game may have been, but Lincoln's on-loan Bristol City midfielder Morrell and Wigan striker Moore will remember it for a long time.

Morrell was neat and tidy in central midfield alongside skipper-for-the-night Allen, while the towering Moore gave Wales some physical presence in attack.

Of those who came into the side, it was perhaps Williams who made the strongest case for involvement when Wales return to competitive action.

Midfielder Jonny Williams was Wales' creative fulcrum against Belarus
Midfielder Jonny Williams was Wales' creative fulcrum against Belarus

The 25-year-old started for his country for the first time in more than three years on the back of a good spell at Charlton Athletic, and he offered Wales the sort of craft on the ball which had been lacking at times against Azerbaijan.

He could be useful when Wales go to Slovakia and then face World Cup finalists Croatia on this ground in two potentially pivotal qualifying games in October.

With a bit of luck, of course, Juventus' Aaron Ramsey will be fit to offer his guile to Giggs' side by then too.

Man of the match

Jonny Williams - Making his first Wales start since Euro 2016, the attacking midfielder showed glimpses of his undoubted quality in a hard-working display.

Wales manager Ryan Giggs said:

"I am delighted with the performance. Especially in the first half I thought we were excellent.

"In the second half Belarus pressed us a bit differently and made it harder, but the two debutants I thought were very good and all that was missing was that second goal.

"It was a difficult one with Dan whether to rest him, but he wanted to play.

"When you are in form like his, players just want to play and keep scoring. He gets fans off their feet.

"To do what he's done at the start of the season is amazing. The next step obviously is that consistency, which he's shown so far and he needs to carry on.

"But I've got no doubts that will happen because he wants to be the best, he's a great character and a great trainer.

"He's one of those players where you know what he's going to do but you can't stop it. There are so many goals [he has scored] like that, but it's very difficult to stop because he can go either way."

Line-ups

Wales

  • 12Ward
  • 14Roberts
  • 5MephamSubstituted forLockyerat 77'minutes
  • 6Rodon
  • 4DaviesSubstituted forGunterat 90+1'minutes
  • 7Allen
  • 15Morrell
  • 10H WilsonSubstituted forVaulksat 89'minutes
  • 17Williams
  • 20JamesSubstituted forBaleat 50'minutes
  • 13MooreSubstituted forVokesat 75'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Hennessey
  • 2Gunter
  • 3Levitt
  • 8Smith
  • 9Vokes
  • 11Bale
  • 16Lockyer
  • 18Ampadu
  • 19Hedges
  • 21Davies
  • 22Woodburn
  • 23Vaulks

Belarus

  • 16Plotnikov
  • 8ZolotovBooked at 57mins
  • 21Volkov
  • 6Politsevich
  • 5Polyakov
  • 17BagaSubstituted forDragunat 71'minutes
  • 14YablonskySubstituted forMaevskiat 45'minutes
  • 7KovalevSubstituted forNgomeat 45'minutes
  • 10BakharSubstituted forKlimovichat 84'minutes
  • 11SkavyshSubstituted forPecheninat 76'minutes
  • 13SignevichSubstituted forStasevichat 70'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Gutor
  • 2Dragun
  • 3Matveychik
  • 4Naumov
  • 9Ngome
  • 12Klimovich
  • 15Klimovich
  • 18Maevski
  • 19Pavlovets
  • 20Pechenin
  • 22Stasevich
Referee:
William Collum

Match Stats

Home TeamWalesAway TeamBelarus
Possession
Home66%
Away34%
Shots
Home13
Away7
Shots on Target
Home2
Away1
Corners
Home5
Away1
Fouls
Home10
Away29

Live Text

Match ends, Wales 1, Belarus 0.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Wales 1, Belarus 0.

Joe Rodon (Wales) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Nikolai Zolotov (Belarus).

Substitution

Substitution, Wales. Chris Gunter replaces Ben Davies.

Joe Allen (Wales) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Max Ebong Ngome (Belarus).

Attempt blocked. Ben Davies (Wales) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Substitution

Substitution, Wales. Will Vaulks replaces Harry Wilson.

Harry Wilson (Wales) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Nikolai Zolotov (Belarus).

Substitution

Substitution, Belarus. Vladislav Klimovich replaces Ivan Bakhar.

Attempt missed. Ivan Bakhar (Belarus) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Max Ebong Ngome following a fast break.

Jonathan Williams (Wales) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Nikolai Zolotov (Belarus).

Jonathan Williams (Wales) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Kirill Pechenin (Belarus).

Jonathan Williams (Wales) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Nikolai Zolotov (Belarus).

Jonathan Williams (Wales) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Nikolai Zolotov (Belarus).

Substitution

Substitution, Wales. Tom Lockyer replaces Chris Mepham.

Substitution

Substitution, Belarus. Kirill Pechenin replaces Maksim Skavysh.

Attempt missed. Stanislav Dragun (Belarus) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Igor Stasevich with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Belarus. Conceded by Joe Morrell.

Substitution

Substitution, Wales. Sam Vokes replaces Kieffer Moore.

Substitution

Substitution, Belarus. Stanislav Dragun replaces Dmitri Baga.

Substitution

Substitution, Belarus. Igor Stasevich replaces Nikolay Signevich.

Attempt missed. Joe Allen (Wales) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Harry Wilson.

Corner, Wales. Conceded by Zakhar Volkov.

Attempt blocked. Jonathan Williams (Wales) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Harry Wilson.

Harry Wilson (Wales) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Zakhar Volkov (Belarus).

Attempt missed. Gareth Bale (Wales) left footed shot from the centre of the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Harry Wilson.

Kieffer Moore (Wales) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Zakhar Volkov (Belarus).

Attempt missed. Denis Polyakov (Belarus) left footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Max Ebong Ngome.

Attempt blocked. Ivan Maevski (Belarus) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Max Ebong Ngome.

Foul by Joe Morrell (Wales).

Ivan Bakhar (Belarus) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

goal