Nations League: World champions France held to a draw; Wales win big
Ryan Giggs made a fabulous start to his managerial career, even as world champions France were held to a goalless draw by Germany in the opening day of the UEFA Nations League on Thursday.
Gareth Bale scored a stunning goal, while Aaron Ramsey scored from a tap-in as Wales routed Ireland 4-1 in Giggs’ managerial debut at the Cardiff city stadium in a League B encounter.
It took just six minutes for Wales to find the net when Tom Lawrence scored from a Joe Allen through ball before Bale produced a stunning volley in the 18th minute from the edge of the box having chested down a wonderful long ball from Ben Davies.
It was his 30th goal for Wales making him the country’s all-time leading goal-scorer.
17-year-old Ethan Ampadu then set up Ramsey for a third and well before half-time, the game looked over for Ireland.
Connor Roberts then made it 4-0, 10 minutes after teams had changed sides getting to the end of a Bale ball before finishing with a crisp left-footed strike. Ireland found one back, but that came with as a mere consolation with Shaun Williams scoring from a Ramsey error.
“We wanted to show what we’re capable of and make a statement. We’re looking to win every game and win the group. The manager is trying to stamp his own style on the team. There’s a lot to improve on but there’s a lot to enjoy,” Bale told Sky Sports after the victory.
Wales next take on Denmark on Sunday, who went down 0-3 to Slovakia in a friendly where they had fielded a fringe team.
Recently crowned world champions France, however, failed to get off to a winning start in their League A encounter against Germany in Munich.
It was a dull-dreaded affair, but France will do well to thank debutant goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, who made two wonderful saves to keep his side alive in the game.
He first denied Marco Reus with a brilliant one-handed save, before keeping out Matthias Ginter header.
France plays the Netherlands at home on Sunday.
Meanwhile, in the other matches, Ukraine bounced back from a goal down to beat Czech Republic 2-1 in League B encounter, while Norway beat Cyprus 2-0, and Bulgaria won 2-1 over Slovenia in League C.
In League D, Georgia beat Kazakhstan 2-0, while Armenia lost 2-1 against Liechtenstein.