herald

Sunday 22 April 2018

Fine start for Giggs as Bale hits hat-trick

Treble: Wales’ Gareth Bale
Treble: Wales’ Gareth Bale

Ryan Giggs enjoyed a dream start as Wales manager on a night when Gareth Bale became his country's top goalscorer in a 6-0 win over China.

Wales comfortably booked their place in Monday's China Cup final against the Czech Republic or Uruguay as Bale eclipsed Ian Rush's 28-goal record for Wales.

Sam Vokes also scored twice and Harry Wilson - winning his second cap more than four years after becoming Wales' youngest-ever player - was on target as China were thrashed in front of a noisy 36,000-plus crowd in Nanning.

The two nations had never met before and 45 spots separated 65th-placed China from Wales in the FIFA world rankings.

That gap was more like a huge chasm as Giggs enjoyed a stress-free start to management against World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi, an old adversary when he was a Manchester United player against the Italian's great Juventus sides of the 1990s.

Giggs had to wait two months for his first match following his January appointment and the opportunity build on the work of predecessor Chris Coleman.

There was no discernible change in tactics - Wales lined up with three central defenders, two wing-backs and Bale operating in the free role which had inspired them to reach the semi-finals of Euro 2016.

Bale had only arrived in China two days earlier after playing for Real Madrid on Sunday.

But he clearly had Rush's record on his mind and the first treble of his Wales career secured the landmark, having played four games fewer than the 73-times capped former Liverpool striker.

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