Wales have upped their points tally to 4 in their Euro 2024 qualifying group thanks to a 1-0 victory courtesy of Kieffer Moore’s header at the Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday.
Following a last-minute draw against Croatia on Saturday, the Welsh were able to triumph over Latvia at the CCS last night – moving the home side to second in group D.
It was Wales’ first victory since overcoming Ukraine in the World Cup play-off final last year – ending their nine-game winless run.
Page named an unchanged XI from the draw in Split, opting for the same substitutes with goal-scorer Nathan Broadhead not quite making the starting team.
Prior to the match, the Cardiff City Stadium was packed to capacity and paid a poignant tribute to retired legend Gareth Bale. The Welsh player expressed his appreciation to the enthusiastic Red Wall fans who had supported him throughout his career.
Wales: Ward; Roberts, Mepham, Rodon, Williams; Morrell, Ampadu; Wilson (Cabango 90+2), Ramsey (C) (Cooper 90+1), James (Broadhead 72); Moore.
Latvia: Steinbors; Savalnieks, Oss, Cernomordijs (C), Sorokins (Jurkovskis 46); J Ikaunieks (Jaunzems 58), Zjuzins (Saveljevs 82), Tobers, Ciganiks (Varslavans 70); Uldrikis (Krollis 82), Gutkovskis.
After just five minutes, Cymru were already testing Pavels Steinbors, withthe Latvia goalkeeper reacting well to Harry Wilson’s attempt after Daniel James evaded his defender on the left wing.
Creditably, Dainis Kazakevics’ team settled into the game, and the hosts relied on Danny Ward to deny Marcis Oss’ shot from a corner.
Page’s squad quickly regained their composure and had an excellent chance to take the lead in the 20th minute when captain Aaron Ramsey found Moore, who headed wide from about 10 yards out.
As the opportunities kept coming, with Moore and Neco Williams both missing from long range, the Red Dragons displayed real patience in their efforts to score.
Wilson had a volleyed shot blocked from close range, and Ethan Ampadu’s strike went agonizingly wide just a few moments later.
However, Wales’ persistence paid off four minutes before half-time as James once again utilized his speed and agility to create space and deliver the ball to Moore, who headed home at the back post, giving the home team a well-deserved lead at halftime.
Five minutes into the second half, Neco Williams almost doubled Wales’ lead, but Steinbors made a spectacular save to tip his driven shot onto the crossbar. Steinbors also blocked a Harry Wilson volley, while Ward denied Gutkovskis’ rare Latvian attack with his feet.
Despite dominating possession, Wales struggled to create chances as the game progressed.
Broadhead, who scored in the previous match, replaced James, but the visitors’ Varslavans missed a late opportunity which could’ve equalled the scoring.
Page gave Swansea’s Ollie Cooper his debut in injury-time, with Cooper having a few minutes to experience the atmosphere and intencity of the Welsh senior team.
With a clean-sheet secured and three-points added to the table, the full-time whistle blew and “new” Wales now happily sit second in group D of the Euro 2024 qualifiers.
With four out of six possible points from the first international camp of 2023, Wales ended the week at the top of the standings, setting them up well for next year’s summer tournament in Germany.
Referee: Giorgi Kruashvili
Goal: Moore (41′)
Yellow card: Wilson (35′), Sorokins (45), Černomordijs (58), Zjuzins (62)