Wales 2-0 Hungary: Ramsey brace sends Ryan Giggs' side to Euro 2020
Wales 2-0 Hungary: Aaron Ramsey brace sends Ryan Giggs’ side to Euro 2020 as they finish second in Group E
- Wales have sealed automatic qualification for the European Championship with victory over Hungary
- Aaron Ramsey headed Wales into the lead from a Gareth Bale cross in the 15th minute on Tuesday night
- Juventus midfielder doubled the hosts’ lead as he slammed home from Kieffer Moore’s acrobatic flick
After a career in top-level football spanning nearly three decades, Ryan Giggs will finally fulfil his dream of competing at a major tournament with Wales.
What Giggs could not manage as a player, he has achieved as a coach, as Aaron Ramsey’s two goals – on his first competitive start since September 2018 – ensured Wales secured the victory over Hungary they needed to qualify automatically for Euro 2020 next summer.
They were also indebted to a superb double save by Wayne Hennessey in the first half, with the score at 1-0. A draw would have condemned Wales to the play-offs next spring.
Gareth Bale celebrates after Wales sealed automatic qualification for next summer’s European Championship
Welsh boss Ryan Giggs embraces Joe Allen after the hosts beat Hungary in Tuesday night’s must-win match
Wales’ jubilant players slide on the ground in front of the home supporters after securing the three points they needed
Wales players celebrate after going 2-0 up against Hungary in their crucial Euro 2020 qualifier on Tuesday night
Gareth Bale and Joe Allen celebrate with Ramsey after he opened the scoring with a header in the 15th minute of the game
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS
WALES (4-2-3-1): Hennessey; C Roberts, Lockyer, Mepham, B Davies; Allen, Morrell (Ampadu 50); Bale (Wilson 88), Ramsey, James; Moore
Subs not used: A Davies, King, Gunter, J Lawrence, Williams, Vokes, Levitt, T Roberts, Matondo, Vaulks
Goalscorers: Ramsey 15, 47
Booked: Lockyer, James
Manager: Ryan Giggs
HUNGARY (4-2-3-1): Gulacsi; Loverncsics, Barath, Lang, Z Nagy (Kovacs 60); A Nagy, Patkai; Dzsudzsak (Varga 72), Szoboszlai, Sallai (Holender 83); Adam Szalai
Subs not used: Dibusz, Kovacsik, Attila Szalai, Gazdag, Feczesin, Vida, Pavkovics, Holman, Bese
Booked: Patkai, Kovacs
Manager: Marco Rossi
Referee: Ovidiu Hategan
After three qualifying matches, Wales had only three points, but an impressive burst for the finishing line, claiming 11 points from a possible 15, saw Giggs’ men home.
They will not be among the favourites next summer, but with stars like Gareth Bale, Ramsey – now seventh on Wales’ all-time scoring list – and Daniel James in their team, fans will dream of repeating their glorious march to the semi-finals of Euro 2016.
Nothing could spoil their evening, not even the throwing of flares by Hungarian fans, one of which briefly appeared to set alight a seat near where the visiting fans were housed. Bale, meanwhile, was given a deserved standing ovation when he was brought off with two minutes left.
When the teams were announced, Wales’ Twitter account referred to the starting XI as ‘the authors of tonight’s story’. These players now have the chance to write another exciting chapter across the continent next summer.
Giggs deserves credit for his work in these last four games, from the success of Kieffer Moore in attack to the smart use of Bale and Ramsey, both short of full match fitness, in the final two games against Azerbaijan and Hungary.
With Ramsey returning to the starting XI for the first time in more than a year, and Joe Allen back from suspension, Wales approached the match full of confidence – even more so given the position of their opponents.
Wales’ players lined up in an odd formation for the team picture ahead of kick-off at the Cardiff City Stadium
Tom Lockyer puts pressure on Hungary striker Adam Szalai during the opening exchanges on Tuesday night
Wales striker Kieffer Moore attempts to close down Hungary’s Adam Lang as he gains possession of the ball
Ramsey found himself in plenty of space to direct Gareth Bale’s inch-perfect cross into the back of the Hungary net
Aaron Ramsey celebrates in front of the home fans after doubling his side’s lead two minutes into the second-half
Hungary had won only one of their past 12 qualifying matches away from home, and were without key players, too. Centre-back Willi Orban was absent due to injury, while fellow defender Mihaly Korhut and midfielder Laszlo Kleinheisler were suspended.
But qualifying heartbreak remained fresh in the minds of many Wales fans, with Euro 2016 their first appearance at a major tournament for 58 years. Romania in 1993, Russia 10 years later and the Republic of Ireland in 2017 – all these results meant Wales would not count their chickens.
They knew a win would be enough to book a spot in Euro 2020 without needing to tackle the play-offs next spring – yet Wales started a little nervously. There was none of the vigour they showed in the early of their 2-0 win in Azerbaijan on Saturday as Hungary dished out some rough treatment to Bale and Ramsey. For a short time, they looked comfortable.
Yet they could nothing when Wales’ two most talented players combined to put them in front. Connor Roberts found Bale in space on the right, and he delivered the perfect cross for Ramsey – who had drifted away from his marker Adam Nagy – to head home from close range. It was the Juventus midfielder’s 15th international goal, putting him level with John Charles in 10th on the all-time list.
Giggs had been restrained in the build-up but his leapt and punched the air in celebration, while confused Wales fans at the other end of the ground chanted the name of Kieffer Moore, not realising that Ramsey, rather than the Wigan striker, had given them the lead.
Moore should have made it two just before the half-hour mark, only to head another delightful cross from Bale just wide.
Gareth Bale looks for a way through the Hungary defence as Wales chase the victory they need to qualify for Euro 2020
Wigan striker Moore goes close to doubling the lead for Wales in the first-half but sees his header go wide of the far post
Welsh manager Ryan Giggs queries a refereeing decision with the fourth official during Tuesday night’s match
The Juventus midfielder slams the ball beyond Peter Gulacsi into the roof of the net for Wales’ second goal of the night
Wales’ players pile on top of goalscorer Ramsey after they doubled their lead in the must-win match in Cardiff
Wales nearly paid for it five minutes later but stayed ahead thanks to a brilliant double save from Wayne Hennessey. The Crystal Palace ‘keeper blocked Dominik Szoboszlai’s low drive from Adam Szalai’s knock-down, and then kept out the follow-up from Roland Sallai.
Bale was everywhere, at one point charging back deep into his own half to dispossess Zsolt Nagy. The Hungary left-back simply could not handle Bale and somehow avoided an early booking for several fouls on the Real Madrid man.
The second half started in bizarre fashion, with referee Ovidiu Hategan and his linesmen reappearing well after the players were ready to kick off – and Hungary were similarly late into their stride when the action resumed.
Moore miscued an attempted bicycle kick from Ben Davies’ free-kick on the left, but it fell perfectly for Ramsey, who lifted the ball calmly above Peter Gulacsi into the roof of the net. Wales had the breathing space they needed.
The Hungarians could not deal with Bale, Ramsey or James, and Bale nearly made it three with a free-kick from the edge of the box that went narrowly over. Then Ramsey was denied a hat-trick from just inside the box, Gulacsi saving with his foot after another thrilling run from James.
Ramsey didn’t care. Wales didn’t care. The party was about to start in Cardiff – and who knows how long it might last.
Bale whips a free-kick towards goal but sees his effort narrowly miss the target as Wales search for a third goal
Fans light a flare in the stands during Tuesday night’s all-important European Championship qualifier in Group E
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