Gareth Bale became the latest Cymru centurion on a night that will live long in the memory as his side scored five to claim a convincing 5-1 win over Belarus at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Cymru 5-1 Belarus
FIFA WORLD CUP QUALIFIER
- Saturday, 13 November 2021
- Cardiff City Stadium
Rob Page was clear in his pre-match talk that his Cymru side were targetting maximum points and a strong finish to the campaign. With a play-off place already guaranteed, the runners-up position in Group E was the focus and his side produced a strong attacking performance to deliver three points in style.
Cymru enjoyed the perfect start when Aaron Ramsey opened the scoring inside three minutes as he capitalised on a saved effort from Ben Davies and made no mistake against Belarus goalkeeper and captain Sergei Chernick from close range. Connor Roberts then tried his luck but his shot went narrowly wide.
The lead was doubled on 20 minutes as Page's side made their dominance count. Bale found himself in space in the middle and slotted the ball to Neco Williams, and his shot to the near post caught Chernik by surprise as the ball nestled inside the post. Belarus came into the game before the break, but Danny Ward was rarely troubled as Cymru took their two-goal advantage into half-time.
Brennan Johnson replaced Bale at before the restart with Page keeping one eye on Tuesday's match against Belgium, and with the captain's armband, Ramsey scored his second of the night after 50 minutes when converted from the penalty spot following a handball in the Belarus area by Ruslan Yudenkov.
Ramsey departed on 70 minutes with the result never in doubt, but further goals from Ben Davies and Connor Roberts, both from crosses from Harry Wilson, in the final quarter of the game made this a resounding victory. A fine strike from substitute Artem Kontsevoi handed the visitors a consolation goal, while Wayne Hennessey came on for his 98th appearance for his country in the final moments.
BALE THE CENTURION – A week of celebration for the Cymru captain culminated with him taking to the field in the colours of his country for the 100th time in his illustrious career. One of the all-time greats to wear the shirt, if not the greatest of all, Bale maintains the same pride, passion and commitment that has defined his international performances since he made his debut back in 2006. It was a special night for Bale as the celebrated his appearance milestone with the Red Wall, and there is still a lot more to come from the team captain.
BACK TOGEHTER – With Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen all named in the starting line-up, Cymru showed just what has been missing when the influential trio have not been available to all play together. Supported by Harry Wilson and Dan James, together with Neco Williams and Connor Roberts pushing forward from their deeper positions on each side of the field, the performance showed just how good this Cymru side can be with everyone available.
PHYSICAL TEST – From the early exchanges it was clear that Belarus would take a heavy-handed approach to dealing with Cymru's attacking pace, but Page's side more than matched the challenge and didn't let the robust style of their opponents disrupt a dominant performance. Joe Rodon was once again the leader in defence, and showed that Cymru can mix it with the toughest of opposition as he put in a series of challenges to leave goalkeeper Danny Ward untroubled.
This was always going to be a special night for Cymru as captain Gareth Bale made his 100th appearance, and it proved to be the perfect occasion as Rob Page's side dominated for long periods, scoring five goals in the process. Although a play-off place was guaranteed before the game, there is a determination within the group to claim the runners-up place in Group E, and there could not have been a better warm-up ahead of the matach against Belgium this coming Tuesday.
Cymru XI: Ward (GK) (Hennessey 90+1), N.Williams, B.Davies, Rodon, Allen, Wilson, Ramsey (Morrell 71), Bale (c) (Johnson 46) C.Roberts, Amapdu, James (T. Roberts 76).Subs: A. Davies (GK), Gunter, Mepham, Colwill, Thomas, Harris, Vaulks, J. Williams.
Manager: Rob Page.
Goals: Ramsey (3, 50 pen), N.Williams (20), B.Davies (77), C.Roberts (89).
Yellow Cards: Ampadu (59).
Red Cards: None.
Belarus XI: Chernik (GK)(c), Pechenin, Shvetsov, Naumov, Yudenkov (Kontsevoi 82), Selyava, Zolotov (Yuzepchuk 71), Yablonski, V.Lisakovich (Bakhar 82), Sedko (Antilevski 60), Kilmovich (Ebong 71). Subs: Khatkevich (GK), Pavlyuchenko (GK), Shauchenka, Sokol, Solovei, R.Lisakovich, Levitski.
Manager: Georgy Kondratyev.
Goals: Kontsevoi (87).
Yellow Cards: Zolotov (25), Antilevski (79), Ebong (83).
Red Cards: None.
Referee: Maurizio Mariani (ITA).
Assistant referees: Alessandro Costanza (ITA) and Matteo Passeri (ITA).
Fourth official: Daniele Chiffi (ITA).
VAR: Michael Fabbri (ITA).
Assistant VAR: Daniele Doveri (ITA).