Jonny Williams’ first Cymru goal was the difference in Sofia as Ryan Giggs’ side claimed a 1-0 win to stay top and unbeaten in their UEFA Nations League group.
Bulgaria 0-1 Cymru
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE
- 14 October 2020
- Natsionalen Stadion Vasil Levski, Sofia
Giggs opted to play five in the back, handing Rhys Norrington-Davies his first Cymru cap, while Neco Williams was given his first senior side start.
With a reduced capacity crowd allowed at Sofia, Cymru stared brightly and piled the pressure on Bulgaria. Joe Rodon was unfortunate to miss the target from successive corners while a trademark Harry Wilson free-kick also found itself off target. Dan James threatened from the left-hand side and almost gave Cymru the lead, seeing a deflected strike go narrowly wide from the far post.
As Bulgaria settled into the match the game became an even affair, with both sides battling for possession in the middle of the park. A booking for captain Ben Davies means the defender will miss Cymru’s next match in November through suspension.
The second half started quietly but a fierce challenge from Dan James frayed tempers as players from both sides were booked after a flurry of follow up challenges. Debutant Norrington-Davies could have given Cymru the lead as an unexpected ball landed at his feet just inside the box, but his left footed attempt sailed off target.
Bulgaria should have taken the lead near the hour mark as a well delivered ball from the left-hand side found Bozhidar Kraev with an open goal, but to the surprise of his team mates the number 10 missed the target.
Minutes later, Cymru substitute Rabbi Matondo also could have scored. Another well delivered ball was met by Matondo on the edge of the six-yard box but the winger failed to capitalize, blasting the ball over the crossbar. The injury concerns continued for Cymru as Wayne Hennessey limped off holding his leg, giving the opportunity for Adam Davies to earn his first cap.
It was an amazing moment. I've always wondered if I'd ever get a goal but here we are. We always knew that if we kept going we'd get the win, we did just that and everyone's happy. The boys in the back were brilliant, if we can keep more clean sheets we can win more games. It was always the aim to top the group and we've given ourselves a great chance now.
It was up to Cymru stalwart Jonny Williams to break the deadlock. A superb ball in from Neco Williams was met on the half volley by the centre midfielder, who made no mistake with the strike and found the roof of the net.
Cymru remain top of the UEFA Nations League group, one point ahead of Finland. Ryan Giggs will now look to prepare his side to face the group runners up and the Republic of Ireland next month as Cymru look to qualify into group A.
Bulgaria: 13. Nikolay Mihaylov, 6. Cicinho, 3.Georgi Terzeiv, 5.Kristian Dimitrov, 14. Anton Nedyalkov, 16. Kristiyan Malinov (22. Aleksandar Tsvetkov 46’), 12. Yanis Karabelyov, 8. Todor Nedelev, 11. Kiril Despodov (9. Birsent Karagaren 83’), 17. Georgi Yomov, 10. Bozhidar Kraev (19. Ismail Isa 75’).
Subs not used: 1. Martin Lukov, 23. Plamen Iliev, 2. Cvetomir Panov, 7. Filip Krastev, 15. Vasil Bozhikov, 20. Dimitar Iliev, 21. Dimitar Velovski.
Yellow cards: Cicinho 51’, Yanis Karabelyov 53’, Kristian Dimitrov 59’
Cymru: 1. Wayne Hennessey (21. Adam Davies 80’), 17. Rhys Norrington-Davies, 4. Ben Davies (c), 6. Joe Rodon, 13. Chris Mepham, 3. Neco Williams, 15. Ethan Ampadu, 19. Matt Smith (18. Dylan Levitt 72’), 7. Harry Wilson (8. Jonny Williams 72’), 20. Dan James (11. Rabbi Matondo), 9. Tyler Roberts.
Subs not used: 12. Danny Ward, 2. Chris Gunter, 5. Ben Cabango, 14. Connor Roberts, 16. Brennan Johnson, 22. Ben Woodburn, 23. Will Vaulks.
Yellow cards: Ben Davies 28’, Harry Wilson 49’, Dan James 50’, Jonny Williams 90+4’