Russia 0-3 Wales
Wales scored three goals this evening to finish top of Group B ahead of England. First half goals from Aaron Ramsey and Neil Taylor gave them a two goal lead at half time before Gareth Bale but the icing on the cake in the second. Tonight’s result sees Russia leave the competition finishing in fourth.
Both sides knew the importance of the game so there was an air of tension at kick-off. But it seemed to be removed in the first minute when Bale was allowed to run at the Russia defence. Wales have been criticised for not getting Bale into the game enough during this tournament, but the Real Madrid man began his personal battle with Igor Akinfeev when he tested the Russia goalkeeper with a stinging shot.Wales did not have to wait long for the breakthrough as James Chester intercepted a pass on the halfway line allowing Joe Allen to split the Russia defence with a superb pass.Ramsey had timed his run perfectly to keep himself onside and he produced a fine finish lofting the ball over Akinfeev as he charged out of his goal.
There was more to come just nine minutes later as Bale again made a nuisance of himself and Roman Shirakov fatally poked the ball into Taylor’s path.The wing-back is not noted for his scoring ability and Akinfeev blocked his first attempt, but Taylor made no mistake with the rebound as he smashed a half-volley into the net.
Russia had chances too, Artem Dzyuba almost scored as Ashley Williams failed to cut out Akinfeev’s towering kick and Aleksandr Korkorin’s shot was deflected wide, but they could not cope with Welsh pace on the break.Fuelled by the energy and enthusiasm of Ramsey, Wales cut through almost at will as Russia’s ageing defence creaked time and again. Bale’s 70-yard burst took him past several defenders and when the ball broke to Sam Vokes the Russia defence were grateful for Akinfeev’s stop. It was not the last time in a frantic first half as Akinfeev stopped Ramsey’s powerful drive and smothered two more Bale attempts with Wales threatening to score from every attack.
Akinfeev was called into action on two more occasions from Bale as Russia threw caution to the wind and there was more danger when they conceded a free-kick 30 yards from goal. Bale had the Euros record in his sights after successful strikes against Slovakia and England, but there was to be no history-making goal as this time his effort drifted wide of the near post. However, there was no way Bale was going to be denied from getting on the scoresheet and he finally did so after 67 minutes.Ramsey ran at the Russian defence, slipping one way and the other before finding Bale through, clearly onside, to poke the ball past Akinfeev.
That win combined with England’s draw with Slovakia saw the men in red finish top of the group. Russia head home thankful they don’t have to qualify for the 2018 World Cup – they will be the hosts.
Man of the Match – Aaron Ramsey (Wales)
- Aleksei Berezutski replaces Vasili Berezutski 46 mins
- Aleksandr Golovin replaces Roman Shirokov 52 mins
- Aleksandr Samedov replaces Fedor Smolov 70 mins
- David Edwards replaces Joe Allen 74 mins
- Andy King replaces Joe Ledley 76 mins
- Simon Church replaces Gareth Bale 83 mins
Russia – Pavel Mamaev.
Wales – Sam Vokes.