Wales 1-0 Latvia: Kieffer Moore’s first-half header gives hosts a narrow win as Rob Page’s men continue their positive start in the Euro 2024 qualifiers – after Gareth Bale makes emotional farewell
- Wales climbed to second in their Euro 2024 qualifying group behind Croatia
- Kieffer Moore combined with Dan James for Wales’ winner just before half-time
- Icon Gareth Bale said his goodbyes to the Cardiff City Stadium ahead of kick-off
With tears in his eyes, Gareth Bale said his goodbyes to a grateful stadium on Tuesday night. With a tentative stride, Wales then continued their progress in the scary new era without him.
It wasn’t a convincing win and it was also of limited value to any grand judgements, given Latvia’s standing in the game. But for now the Welsh are dealing with the retirement of their greatest star by making solid headway through Group D.
Kieffer Moore’s header shortly before half-time got the job done and added to a far more impressive draw in Croatia at the weekend, four points from two games exceeds most projections for this stage of their push to qualify for the European Championships.
How well they go over the course of the campaign remains to be seen. And likewise their adeptness at breaking through deep-sitting defences, now that their lock picker-in-chief has departed.
On this occasion, it was a struggle. Rob Page’s side had around 75 per cent of the possession, and faced only one decent chance in each half, but they too often lacked the ingenuity to squeeze through the gaps in Latvia’s backline.
Kieffer Moore (left) netted just before the break to hand Wales a 1-0 win over Latvia on Tuesday
The Welshman rose highest to convert Dan James’ cross with a bullet header in the 41st minute
Gareth Bale made an emotional address to Wales fans ahead of their Euro 2024 qualifier
When they did, it was semi-promising, most notably when Harry Wilson crashed an early volley against the shins of Pavels Steinbors, and again Aaron Ramsey when floated a ball to Moore at the back post.
Unlike his winner a short while later, the header was poor.
The other opportunities were predominantly drives from distance that required no saves and the aerial scraps brought on by wide balls from Wilson and Dan James. Without Bale, the fear is it will become a familiar frustration.
The risk was a counter, but Latvia rarely looked good for the upset beyond one moment midway through the opening half when loose marking at a corner allowed Marcis Oss to glance a solid volley on target.
Bale took to the pitch at the Cardiff City Stadium to say goodbye to the national team’s fans
The narrow win puts Wales in a commanding position in the group, level on points with Croatia
Danny Ward saved and from that point until the goal, scored via Moore’s head after an excellent cross from James, Wales were reasonably comfortable.
Neco Williams opened the second half with a curler from 20 yards that Steinbors nudged onto the bar, before the anxiety of the next passage of play when Vladislav Gutkovskis drew a good save from Ward.
Ranked 133 in the world, Latvia might not have been expected to get so close.
For Wales, next up is Armenia and a further chance for post-Bale momentum before the more reliable barometer of a clash with Turkey.
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