Wales and the World Cup - Ben Woodburn
3 July 2018

Wales and the World Cup - Ben Woodburn

In the latest of a series of features that will run throughout the duration of the World Cup finals, takes a closer look at a memorable debut goal for Ben Woodburn during qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals.

On the 29 November 2016, Ben Woodburn scored his first senior club goal for Liverpool, as the teenage star sealed a 2-0 win over Leeds United in the League Cup.

At 17 years and 45 days old, he beat Michael Owen's record in the process to become the youngest-ever goalscorer in the history of the club. The fact that the goal was in-front of the Kop only added to the sense of occasion.  

Making a positive impression at Liverpool, it was no surprise that former Wales manager Chris Coleman had already integrated Woodburn into his future plans for the national team.

Already a key part of the intermediate team setup since 2014, Woodburn was named in the senior Wales squad for the World Cup qualifier against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin back in March 2017.

Although he didn't feature during that frustrating 0-0 draw, his senior debut would prove to be much more memorable as he come off the bench against Austria at the Cardiff City Stadium in September 2017.

A key game in the qualifying group, the match was still goalless when Woodburn replaced Tom Lawrence midway through the second half. Within just a few minutes, he was the hero.

The ball fell to Woodburn on the edge of the Austrian penalty area. He took it down and controlled it with his first touch, set himself up with his second, and drilled it past goalkeeper Heinz Lindner from 25-yards to spark incredible celebrations amongst the capacity crowd with his third.

It was a beautiful moment in the campaign, and an indication of a bright future for Woodburn and Wales. The match ended 1-0. 

“It's one of those nights to remember,” said Coleman about the goal from his young substitute after the match. “It was a great way to win the game. Ben is young but we have seen enough.

"This is not a player we have just discovered, we have had him for some years. I had no worries about him at all. It wasn't just his goal, it was his all-round play, his intelligence. I am delighted for him.” 

However, a place at the World Cup finals would evade Wales following defeat to the Republic of Ireland in the final game of the campaign, and it was a defeat that would also prove to be Coleman's last competitive match as manager.

Meanwhile, Woodburn has now become an important figure in the plans of new manager Ryan Giggs, and more moments like that night against Austria will surely not be far away.