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By Dafydd Pritchard
BBC Sport Wales in Cardiff City Stadium
Wales was saved by gareth Bale from a grisly home draw against Azerbaijan as his goal snatched victory to give their bid to qualify for Euro 2020 a lift.
Ryan Giggs’ facet shot a lead to funny style as the ball from a deflected Bale shot and hit on an Pavlo Pashayev.
But that papered over the cracks of a cluttered screen from Wales, who surrendered a gloomy equaliser as Neil Taylor gave the ball away and saw Mahir Emreli dent on the rebound after Wayne Hennessey could only parry his initial effort that was weak.
However, with a little more than five seconds ago, Wales captain and all-time leading goalscorer Bale came to their rescue after more as he headed in from close variety, through the crossbar, to spark wild parties which showed how near the hosts had come to blowing their chances of qualifying for Euro 2020.
The results lifts Wales up to next in Group E – amount on six points with Slovakia – while the thumping of Croatia win from Slovakia sees leaders are joined by the World Cup finalists Hungary on eight points.
Back-to-back defeats against Hungary and Croatia in June – the first time Wales had dropped consecutive qualifiers for decades – had left Giggs’ side for the rest of this effort with little room for error.
The director himself confessed Wales would have to”win just about any game today”, beginning with success here against a diminished Azerbaijan aspect that had never won a European Championship qualifier away from your home.
Despite being 85 areas above their competitors in the world rankings, Wales struggled to impose themselves.
It was fitting that the opening goal ought to arrive in these circumstances that are farcical.
Pashayev was not even looking at the ball once it fell down from a excellent height and then hit him across the side of the head.
Wales could laugh in their good luck, but it was a diversion from their worrying failure to create real opportunities against weak resistance.
Bale looked livelier than he had done in June but, the Derby forwards’s completing lacked the cutting edge, despite providing a couple of sights on goal to Tom Lawrence.
Wales weren’t overly concerned. As long as victory was secure, there was hope, A performance could have lifted spirits but.
When Azerbaijan hit stun the Cardiff City Stadium to 18, but that all changed after a hour.
Taylor made the mistake giving possession away, and following a through-ball from Ramil Sheydaev, neither Taylor nor Chris Mepham could capture Emreli, who capitalised on the inability to hold his shot of Hennessey.
The floor was rippled around by A feeling of foreboding. Could it be a return to the bad old days for Wales?
Despite the palpable tension, the house fans refused to believe so and they roared in the closing stages in their side.
Wales poured in a desperate search for a target and, together with Azerbaijan unable to apparent following Joe Allen shot pin-balled around the box, Bale increased superbly to head in off the bar to save Welsh blushes.
It was supposed Bale would be Wales’ saviour, because he had been in Cyprus a year later and in Andorra at 2014.
He’s a legend of Welsh soccer who is as capable as he’s dragging his group off the canvass of rising to the huge occasions.
This was most certainly true of the latter, and there was a part of personal redemption for Bale awarded his summer for country and club.
In Junehe also cut a frustrated forlorn figure as Wales were defeated in Hungary and Croatia while speculation whined about his Real Madrid future.
Having played for six weeks, Bale’s sluggish body language appeared set for a move to the Super League and spoken of a discontent shaped in Spain, where he had been marginalised by manager Zinedine Zidane.
But a transformation was prompted by the collapse of that transfer and following injuries to players like Eden Hazard from Bale’s status in the club as he score twice in Villarreal past Saturday and began the first three league games of the season of Real.
These were his first goals since March and they appeared to energise Bale from Azerbaijan. He awakened Wales’ assault and ran back to help his defenders.
His target was a deserved reward for his efforts, and it prompted a telling tale of their fist around the touchline by Giggs, that will have been relieved from the arena as anybody.
Having lost seven of his first 13 matches accountable for another defeat might have been terminal for hopes of qualifying for Euro 2020 – and it could have place Giggs.
For him and his side, in Bale, Wales have a saviour for all seasons.
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