Wales flatten Finland to secure Nations League promotion
Cardiff (United Kingdom) (AFP) –
Wales did not miss the presence of absent manager Ryan Giggs as goals from Harry Wilson, Daniel James and Kieffer Moore beat 10-man Finland 3-1 in Cardiff to reach the top tier of the Nations League.
The hosts needed just a point to hold off the Finns at the top of Group B4, but were well worthy of all three points to round off an impressive week from Robert Page in caretaker charge.
Giggs mutually agreed with the Football Association of Wales to not take charge of November's three internationals after being arrested on suspicion of assaulting his girlfriend.
The former Manchester United midfielder denies all allegations of assault.
After a 0-0 friendly draw against the USA, Page has overseen back-to-back victories with the Republic of Ireland also beaten 1-0 at the weekend.
Wales will head to Euro 2020 confident of living up to their extraordinary run to the semi-finals four years ago as an impressive young generation again impressed.
A burst by Wilson put Wales in a strong position after just 12 minutes as he was hauled down by Jere Uronen just outside the box and the defender was shown a straight red card.
Finnish goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky kept his side in the game, producing one outstanding save from Gareth Bale.
But the Bayer Leverkusen stopper was beaten when Bale picked out Wilson to fire low into the net.
James has struggled to make an impact at Manchester United this season but showed what he is capable of with a blistering strike into the top corner a minute into the second-half.
Page then withdrew Bale with the game seemingly won, but the visitors were given a lifeline when Teemu Pukki's fine control and finish halved the deficit just after the hour mark.
Another spark of James's talent helped restore the hosts' two-goal cushion as the winger got to the by-line and stood up a cross for Moore to head home at the back post.
With 16 points from their six games, Wales are also well-placed to secure one of two playoff places for the best Nations League group winners for the 2022 World Cup should they fail to qualify automatically.
© 2020 AFP