Gareth Bale created two goals and scored a stunning solo effort to secure and exciting victory for Wales as they started their build-up to next season’s Euro 2016 qualifiers.
Bale was in brilliant form from the start and he struck fear into the Iceland defence every time he got the ball. And the Cardiff public just loved seeing their home town boy in this scintillating form.
Bale’s early free-kick presented James Collins with the opener, and then in a seven minute second-half spell, the Real Madrid man set-up Sam Vokes for a close range header and then capped the night with a cracking third for himself.
All in all, boss Chris Coleman must have been hugely encouraged by an all-round quality Wales performance.
Manchester City’s bright young midfielder Emyr Huws made his Wales debut, with Coleman making two other changes from the side that drew with Finland in their last match in November. Collins came into central defence with Vokes up front. Wales were without the injured quartet of Joe Ledley, Simon Church, David Vaughan and Aaron Ramsey.
Iceland were captained by Cardiff City’s Aron Einar Gunnarsson, while Tottenham midfielder Gylfi Thor Sigurdsson also figured for the visitors to Cardiff City stadium.
But it was Bale that the Wales public had come to see, and the world’s most expensive player did not disappoint them.
Frankly, the Real Madrid man looks a better player every time he comes home to Wales these days. His pace, control and movement--plus an array of audacious tricks--is a pleasure to watch.
In the first half hour he mesmerised the Iceland defence. And he created a goal for Wales in just 11 minutes. He was tripped way out on the right to produce a free-kick that he sent curling into the box for Collins to head only his second goal for his country.
It took a fine challenge from Ashley Williams to stop Kolbeinn Sigthorsson in the box after 15 minutes, but it was still the Bale show. He struck a low drive that Hannes Thor Halldorsson stopped with some difficulty, and then produced a vicious, curling 25 yard that the alarmed Iceland ’keeper punched away.
Another jink and cross by Bale presented Hal Robson-Kanu with a close range header that flew wide. Joe Allen got into the act with a surging run into the box and a drive just over while Robson-Kanu cut in from the right to curl a shot just wide.
But With their first serious attack, Iceland equalised after 25 minutes. Emil Hallfredsson’s cross from the left was not cleared properly, and the ball was fed out to Johann Berg Gudmundsson, who hit a low drive the deflected wickedly off Williams to leave Wayne Hennessey helpless.
Iceland, off the back of an excellent World Cup qualifying campaign where they reached the play-offs before being beaten by Croatia, showed good control \and possession after their goal and started to give Wales plenty to think about, but the game could easily have been over by the break.
Wales sent on Danny Gabbidon for Collins at the break, with Iceland replacing Ragnar Sigurdsson with Solvi Jonsson, and Alfred Finnbogason with Birkir Saevarsson.
Bale, with a free-kick just over, and Robson-Kanu with a run and stabbed shot wide, continued to threaten for Wales but Iceland were growing increasingly confident.
Huws had produced a confident, efficient performance as a holding midfielder and not looked at all out of place. His chance to get on the score sheet, though, ended with a hurried shot from the edge of the box after a neatly constructed move, that flew high over on the hour mark.
But Wales did regain the lead after 63 minutes, and again Bale was the instigator. |But it took a fine 40 yard cross field ball from Williams to send Bale away. He surged into the box and saw a fierce shot blocked, only for the ball to bounce invitingly for Vokes to head home from close range. Williams was replaced by Sam Ricketts before the re-start.
Bale was determined to get on the score sheet, and he produced a cracker after 70 minutes for Wales’ third. Allen clipped the ball wide from deep defence for Bale to speed away on the right.Jonsson tried to haul him down on half-way, but the Wales star shrugged him off and raced away down the flank before cutting into the box and drilling a stunning low drive into the far bottom corner.
A minute later Bale left the fray to a standing ovation, replaced by youngster Jonathan Williams, his job seemingly done for the evening. Jack Collison was soon to replace the hard working Andy King, while Iceland sent on Bjorn Sverrisson for Sigthorsson.
Robson-Kanu forced Halldorsson into another punched save before Gabbidon had a shot from a corner blocked in the six yard box.
In the closing minutes Wales replaced Robson-Kanu with Ben Davies, while Kristinn Jonsson took over from Ari Skulason for Iceland.
The teams have been announced:
1 Wayne HENNESSEY
2 Chris GUNTER
3 Neil TAYLOR
4 Emyr HUWS
5 James COLLINS
6 Ashley WILLIAMS (C)
7 Joe ALLEN
8 Hal ROBSON-KANU
9 Sam VOKES
10 Andy KING
11 Gareth BALE
12 Boaz MYHILL
13 Adam MATTHEWS
14 Danny GABBIDON
15 Samuel RICKETTS
16 Ben DAVIES
17 Jack COLLISON
18 Ashley RICHARDS
19 Jonathan WILLIAMS
20 Jermaine EASTER
21 Owain Fon WILLIAMS
1 Hannes Thór HALLDÓRSSON
6 Ragnar SIGURDSSON
7 Jóhann Berg GUDMUNDSSON
9 Kolbeinn SIGTHÓRSSON
10 Gylfi Thór SIGURDSSON
11 Alfred FINNBOGASON
14 Kári ÁRNASON
17 Aron Einar GUNNARSSON (C)
18 Theodór Elmar BJARNASON
21 Emil HALLFREDSSON
23 Ari Freyr SKÚLASON
12 Gunnleifur GUNNLEIFSSON
2 Birkir Már SÆVARSSON
3 Kristinn JÓNSSON
4 Eggert Gunnthór JÓNSSON
5 Sölvi Geir Ottesen JÓNSSON
8 Birkir BJARNASON
13 Björn Daníel SVERRISSON
15 Helgi Valur DANÍELSSON
16 Ólafur Ingi SKÚLASON
Updates from the Wales Camp: Tuesday
Ledley out of Wales squad.
Joe Ledley has withdrawn from the Wales squad ahead of tomorrow night"s friendly international with Iceland at the Cardiff City stadium.
Ledley picked up a knock playing for Crystal Palace against Swansea at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday.
He and Simon Church are the only absentees from the original squad named by Chris Coleman.
All trained this evening at the match venue including Real Madrid's Gareth Bale who joined up on Monday evening.
At tonight's press conference both manager Chris Coleman and captain Ashley Williams emphasised the importance of the game ahead of the European qualifiers.
Both recognised that Iceland would be tough opponents having reached the play offs for the World Cup qualifiers.
Members of the FAW media team sat down with defender Danny Gabbidon and quizzed him overt the game with Iceland at Cardiff on Wednesday.
On the influx Welsh players at Crystal Palace:
“It’s good to have some of the Welsh boys at Palace, to have Joe Ledley on board. Wayne Hennessey signed in January and obviously Jonny Williams is with us too, all good lads and good players and they’ve added a lot already to our team.
“A few of the lads were already at Palace. There’s a little breakaway group and a few people have been commenting on the number of Welsh boys in the dressing room now!”
On Wales’ UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying group:
“When I look at our EURO 2016 group, it could have been better but it could have been a lot worse… we’ve got a great chance. We need a good start, if we can get good results in the first two games against Andorra and Bosnia-Herzegovina that will give us a lot of confidence and we can push on from that after that. Now is the time for us to step up and show what we’re all about.
“To qualify would be unbelievable for our players, the fans and for Wales as a country. We’ve got one of the best opportunities we’ve had, we’ve come close before and I think this is the best squad of players we’ve had for a few years.
“We’ve got to make sure we’re all focused and give 100% every game and we’ll see where it takes us – hopefully qualifying for a major tournament which we all want to do because it’s been too long!”
On the potential in the Wales squad:
“Everyone is growing with experience, the players being involved in big games, these youngsters have played a lot of games already. We can’t keep saying we’ve got a young squad. I think we’re ready now to show what we’re about and that’s really exciting.”
On the Vauxhall Friendly v Iceland:
“Friendlies are very important for trialing things out, good to get some training in and working together before qualifying games. It’s been a while since the last meet up. Some people think friendlies are pointless but we don’t see it that way, we’ve got a game against Iceland on Wednesday and it’s another opportunity for us to improve as a team, work with the manager and learn more.
“I’m hoping to get some minutes on Wednesday. It’s good to see the lads who you don’t get to see too often, or if you do, they’re your opponents at club level.
“Hopefully we can put in a good performance and get a good result on Wednesday. A win gives you confidence whether it’s a friendly or qualifier.”
Updates from the Wales Camp: Monday.
Wales squad at Dragon Park.
The Welsh squad trained at the National Development Centre in Newport today ahead of their clash with Iceland on Wednesday.
The session involved all the players who did not feature for their clubs yesterday.
Simon Church will be absent. He took a knock playing for Charlton over the weekend.
Some of the players faced the media. On duty were Sam Vokes, Andy King, Johnny Williams, Owain Fon Williams and Danny Gabbidon.
Facing the press and media for the first time as a senior squad member was Manchester City youngster, Emyr Huws. Now on loan at Birmingham he answered questions in both english and welsh about his delight at joining up with Chris Coleman's squad.
Wales training at Dragon Park
Manager Chris Coleman has named his squad for the Vauxhall Friendly with Iceland.
The game will be played at Cardiff City Stadium on Wednesday 5th March 2014. Kick off at 7.45pm.
Missing from there squad through injury are midfielders Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) and David Vaughan (Sunderland - Loan from Nottingham Forest).
Manager Chris Coleman is hopeful that Gareth Bale will be available: "He has had a great start at Real Madrid, with plenty of goals and assists. He is adapting well to living in a foreign country and I think he is doing great." Asked about his availability once more he said: "We only have a limited number of preparation matches, so it is important that he is with us, but I will monitor the situation."
Asked about the Euro group he said: " It is all about us really. We could no nothing about the teams that were drawn-out, but it is down to us to get a good start. Looking at the way that the fixtures have come-out, we have that chance."
He was asked about how he will replace the now-retired Craig Bellamy: "We have to move on and we have to find a way. We must look forward and it is not all about one individual - it can't be."
"Until we qualify, this isn't a 'Golden Generation' - it will only be that when we qualify. Here is another chance and we must take it, but we need all these players available at one time."
"Looking at the group, we have a very good chance. We know all about Belgium and we also know that Bosnia-Herzegovina will be strong. OK, Andorra are looked upon as the minnows, but even they always have a physical presence in a game and can be difficult to break-down."
Asked about the inclusion of uncapped Emyr Huws: "He is a young player who deserves his chance. He has done very well through the ranks at Manchester City and now, recently, has really done well on loan at Birmingham City. With Aaron Ramsey still being unavailable, it is a good chance to have Emyr with us and show us what he can do in training."
On striker Sam Vokes: "Sam just needed someone to trust him and give him a run in the first team. He is playing every week and he needs that. He is looking very sharp and has fitted-in well at Burnley. He has a great mentality and he can be a big player for us if we set-up for that sort of player. That said, he is very mobile for a big man."
The squad is:
Wayne Hennessey - Crystal Palace
Glyn Myhill - West Bromwich Albion
Owain Fon Williams - Tranmere Rovers
James Collins - West Ham United
Ben Davies - Swansea City
Danny Gabbidon - Crystal Palace
Chris Gunter - Reading
Adam Matthews - Celtic
Ashley Richards - Swansea City
Samuel Ricketts - Wolverhampton Wanderers
Neil Taylor - Swansea City
Ashley Williams - Swansea City
Joe Allen - Liverpool
Jack Collison - West Ham United
Emyr Huws - Manchester City (Loan Birmingham City)
Andy King - Leicester City
Joe Ledley - Crystal Palace
Jonathan Williams - Crystal Palace
Gareth Bale - Real Madrid
Simon Church - Charlton Athletic
Jermaine Easter - Millwall
Hal Robson-Kanu - Reading
Sam Vokes - Burnley
David Cornell - Swansea City
James Wilson - Oldham Athletic
Declan John - Cardiff City
Adam Henley - Blackburn Rovers
Lewin Nyatanga - Barnsley
Rhoys Wiggins - Charlton Athletic
Harry Wilson - Liverpool
Shaun MacDonald - AFC Bournemouth
Lloyd Isgrove - Southampton
Tom Lawrence - Manchester United (Loan Yeovil Town)
Steve Morison - Millwall
Craig Davies - Bolton Wanderers (Loan PNE)
Wales training at Dragon Park
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