Led by superstars Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, Wales spoiled the “Turkey home game” in Baku and kept their fans dreaming of the Round of 16 in the European Football Championship.
Head coach Robert Page’s side beat the Turks, backed by some 30,000 enthusiastic fans, on Wednesday by winning 2-0 (1-0).
In front of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev and UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin, Ramzy scored the first goal in the 42nd minute after strong work from Bale. Conor Roberts (90 + 5) after preparatory work for Bale within the end point.
Bell missed the early decision with a missed foul penalty (61.), but with combined forces, the Dragon progressed over time. With a win and a draw against Switzerland in the first match, Wales score the entire goal in Group A. Turkey, on the other hand, has zero points after two games before the end.
Ramsey with many better chances from the start
The Turks, the hosts, responded to a largely inoffensive performance against Italy (0:3). Coach Senol Gunes brought in Schalke and ex-Düsseldorf Kahn Ayhan in the center of defense and initially put goal scorer Merih Demiral on the bench. Genghis Under the attack should give more penetration power instead of Yusuf Yazigi.
With the Welsh team, Bale led the same formation in which the latter was playing on the grass, as the players of both teams and Portuguese referee Artur Dias kneeled before the start of the match in protest of racism. With their well-trained team, the Welshman got his first chance to score. After Bale’s preliminary work, Ramsey (sixth) failed against Turkish goalkeeper Ogurkan Cakir.
All support does not help the Turks
Against the atmospheric background, both teams got off to an active start. Despite shouts of “Türkiye, Türkiye” from the stands, Wales had a better start. After another excellent pass from Bale, Ramsey chased the ball again independently but wide.
The Turks were not only supported verbally but also on the field visually. Turkish and Azerbaijani flags were distributed in front of the square and thousands of them waved during the match. The two countries feel a close connection and refer to themselves as ‘brothers’. Two giant flags of Turkey were also deployed.
However, the euphoria of the ranks only passed intermittently. Wales midfielder Joe Morrell scored two goals in front of the goal line against Ayhan (30) and Caglar Soyuncu (31). But in the middle of a stage of Turkish dominance, Wales hit: for the third time, Tottenham-professional Bale served his attacking partner Ramsey, who this time comically beat Cakir and gave the Euro 2016 semi-finalist a 1-0 lead.
With two changes – Demiral for Okay and Yazici for Ozan Tufan – the Turks tried to turn the tide after the break. But only captain Burak Yilmaz (54) had a promising chance, but he clearly missed the goal.
Then, of all people, Bale caused disbelief and stunned faces among the Welsh fans in the stands: after the 31-year-old fouled in the penalty area, he took the penalty himself – and shot a meter over the goal. Shortly after that, Cakir hit the Welshman, the ball spinning a few centimeters from the Turkish goal. The most visible player in the match had another chance in the 80th minute. The Welshman withstood the subsequent pressure from the Turks in the frenetic final stage with scuffles between the players.
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