Report as Aaron Ramsey misses two fine chances to score before slotting home Gareth Bale's superb pass three minutes before half-time; Bale later fires penalty over crossbar before Connor Roberts' last-minute second; Wales on verge of reaching last 16 after victory
Thursday 17 June 2021 06:13, UK
Goals from Aaron Ramsey and Connor Roberts gave Wales a 2-0 win over Turkey in Baku to put them on the verge of a Euro 2020 last-16 spot.
Ramsey, who had already missed two excellent chances to score, chested down and slotted home Bale's sumptuous 20-yard diagonal ball to set Wales on the way to their first win of the tournament three minutes before half-time.
Bale would later win a penalty for a foul by Zeki Celik but would blaze the spot-kick over the bar, leaving Wales a nervous ending to the game until Roberts turned home Bale's run from a short corner in the final seconds of second-half injury time to leave Wales' fans in tears and their country on the brink of reaching the knock-out stages.
By adding a victory to their point earned against Switzerland on Saturday, Robert Page's side are likely to reach the next round regardless of what happens against Italy in their final group game on Sunday, while even a win against Switzerland will probably not suffice for pointless Turkey.
Turkey: Cakir (7), Celik (5), Ayhan (5), Soyuncu (6), Meras (6), Karaman (5), Calhanoglu (6), Yokuslu (5), Tufan (5), Under (5), Yilmaz (4).
Subs: Yazici (5), Demiral (6), Muldur (6), Dervisoglu (6), Kahveci (n/a).
Wales: Ward (7), C Roberts (7), Mepham (7), Rodon (8), B Davies (7), Allen (7), Morrell (6), Ramsey (8), James (8), Moore (6), Bale (8).
Subs: Ampadu (6), Wilson (n/a).
Man of the match: Gareth Bale
Wales were fully aware they would be facing essentially a home support but rose above the intimidating atmosphere in Baku and took the game to Turkey from the first whistle, with Dan James their central outlet for much of the first half.
But the real moments of quality were supplied by Bale and Ramsey. Twice the latter was played through by his captain, first denied by the legs of Ugurcan Cakir, before skying a glorious chance after beating the offside trap with only the goalkeeper in his way.
It was third time lucky just before the break as the Juventus midfielder took Bale's wonderful diagonal pass on his chest before slotting past Cakir with his second touch, to give Wales the lead they thoroughly deserved.
Turkey's only moments of note had come from two corners in quick succession, both cleared off the line by Joe Morrell, and aerial balls remained their best source of optimism after the break in an otherwise familiarly disappointing performance.
Burak Yilmaz fired over from another flag kick 10 minutes into the second period but shortly after Cekir dangled a leg at Bale's run and left referee Artur Dias pointing to the spot, only for the Real Madrid man to blaze comfortably over the bar from 12 yards.
Turkey's aerial bombardment continued but Wales dealt with everything thrown at them, with Joe Rodon in particular a rock in their defensive unit.
The hosts' frustration boiled over in added time when Yilmaz and Ben Davies squared up after Rodon was left on the floor in his own penalty area. Their annoyance only deepened as Roberts turned Bale's run from a short corner home to seal victory in the final minute.
Wales are not mathematically guaranteed a last-16 spot but with third place at least guaranteed and four points likely to be enough to reach the threshold to qualify, Page's team look likely to have already extended their European dream beyond Sunday's Stadio Olimpico showdown with Italy.
Wales manager Rob Page: "I couldn't be more proud of the players. I've just said to them in the changing room, to create the amount of chances we've created against a very good team in Turkey is unbelievable.
"We're disappointed to have not scored more goals, but to to win it in the manner in which we did - and we had to dig deep at times - credit goes to the players, they were outstanding."
Bale didn't get on the scoresheet, despite Cekir trying his best to let him, but he did about everything else. Even with his penalty miss, the Real Madrid man showed again that you'll rarely see him have a better game than for his country.
He could have had a hat-trick of assists by half-time but was let down by Ramsey's finishing on two occasions, and made Roberts' last-minute second when accepted wisdom suggested he should have been running towards the corner, rather than teeing up team-mates.
Wales travel to the Stadio Olimpico in Rome to face Italy in their final group game on Sunday (kick-off at 5pm). Turkey face Switzerland in a must-win match in the Baku Olympic Stadium at the same time.