The first international break of the domestic season had arrived and many Welsh football supporters would have had a great sense of anticipation for their home fixture against Republic of Ireland in the first game of the new UEFA Nations League.
It was Ryan Giggs’ first home game as Wales boss and it could not have gone better for the former Manchester United winger as Wales ran out 4-1 winners at the Cardiff City Stadium, to avenge their 1-0 defeat last October to the Irishmen in the same fixture to knock them out of the running for qualification for the 2018 World Cup.
Prior to the game, Ireland manager Martin O’Neill confirmed that his side would be without some key players including the match winner from the previous fixture, James McLean, which may have already had some Irish supporters fearing the worst.
Wales handed opportunities to young Chelsea defender/midfielder Ethan Ampadu, Swansea full-back Connor Roberts and Brentford centre-back Chris Mepham, who all individually gave a good account of themselves. Youngster David Brooks was another stand out player in an emphatic performance from the home side.
Wales began the game on the front and got rewarded for their positive start as Joe Allen’s perfectly weighted pass found Tom Lawrence who rifled home with a first time shot from ten yards in the seventh minute. It soon got better for the home side as starman, Gareth Bale received the ball from a 50-yard cross-field pass from Ben Davies, cut inside and scored with a 20-yard strike into the top left hand corner to double the lead after seventeen minutes.
Aaron Ramsey then made it three with another first time shot to inflict further misery on Ireland after smart play from 17-year-old Ethan Ampadu eight minutes before the interval.
The second began as the first half ended with Wales completely dominant and in control and they got another goal on 55 minutes through right back, Connor Roberts as the Swansea City man volleyed home with his left foot from just outside the box.
It was a near perfect display from Wales barring a error by Arsenal midfielder, Aaron Ramsey to allow Shaun Williams to grab a consolation goal for the visitors on 66 minutes. Evidently, this did change the shape of the game and Ireland did not have another shot at goal after, as Wales continued to probe the Irish goal with debutant Welsh substitute, Tyler Roberts going close near the end.
Despite several absentees for Ireland, not many Wales fans would have expected to see such a dominant and attacking performance from their side. Although the previous manager, Chris Coleman, had got them to the semi-finals of the Euros, there were very few exciting and dominant displays from Wales under his reign and this will be refreshing for Welsh fans to see. Wales players and fans alike will be excited for the future holds under Giggs’ management and will hope they can go one better than the last qualifying campaign.
Has Giggs transformed the Welsh team into a better side? Comment below or tweet us @AllOutFootball_ using the hashtag #AOF!’