herald

Friday 30 September 2016

Welsh stars continue where they left off

Wales 4 Moldova 0

Wales’ Gareth Bale. Pic: PA
Wales’ Gareth Bale. Pic: PA

Gareth Bale starred as Wales began their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign in style with a 4-0 victory over Moldova in Cardiff.

Bale scored twice in the second half to move into second place on the all-time list of Wales goalscorers with 24.

His double took him past Trevor Ford and Ivor Allchurch on 23 and to within four of record marksman Ian Rush, as Wales enjoyed their biggest win in a competitive fixture since beating Azerbaijan 4-0 in 2003.

Moldova were billed as durable opponents despite their poor recent record, but first-half goals from Sam Vokes and Joe Allen - his first for Wales - broke their resistance.

Wales fans were in expectant mood after their finest performance at a major tournament in the summer and Chris Coleman's side had risen to 11th place in the FIFA rankings.

Wales were dominating possession but Moldova stood firm until Bale's cross exposed an aerial weakness and Vokes planted a firm header past Ilie Cebanu. Six minutes later Wales had the comfort of a two-goal cushion after Cebanu had shovelled Bale's dipping shot around a post.

Moldova struggled to clear the corner and the loose ball fell to Allen who beat both Cebanu and Igor Armas' despairing attempted clearance on the goal-line.

The visitors' hopes of getting back in the match were ended within five minutes of the restart when Ion Jardan played a ball blindly straight into the path of the unmarked Bale. Bale strode on and comfortably chipped Cebanu to end the game as a contest.

Bale claimed his 24th goal for his country when he was barged over in the box in stoppage time and coolly stroked home the penalty.

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