Wales 5-1 Belarus: player ratings, heroes & villains as Ramsey shines in big win
Wales breezed to victory over Belarus at the Cardiff City Stadium in their penultimate group match.
The latest centurion, Bale, who has been a loyal servant to his country, assisted Neco Williams for the second goal after Aaron Ramsey had opened the scoring early on.
Ramsey later doubled his tally from the penalty spot and then Ben Davies netted his first goal for Wales, to increase the margin of victory.
Artem Kontsevoy fired in a sublime consolation strike but minutes later Connor Roberts added to Wales’ tally with a slight touch.
The win puts Rob Page’s side into second-place, ahead of the Czech Republic ahead of each side’s final qualifier on Tuesday, with a point enough to secure a runners-up spot.
Elsewhere in the group, Belgium secured their spot for Qatar by beating Estonia, thanks to efforts from Christian Beneke, Yannick Carrasco, Thorgan Hazard.
Neco Williams: He’s got more appearances for Wales than he does for his club Liverpool, but on his 16th cap this was an exciting performance from the Reds youngster.
There was a moment in the match in which he lost his footing and slipped but managed to pick up possession and run at goal.
Of course what we’ll remember is his goal, which is the second he’s now scored for his country. Williams got himself in a good position and read Bale’s pass, and snuck it past the keeper with a bit of fortune.
Aaron Ramsey: The holy trinity of Allen, Bale and Ramsey can be mesmerizing when in full flow.
Unfortunately other than the Euros, we’ve barely seen this in recent years, but tonight Wales fans could appreciate three of their best players, at least for one half before Bale’s withdrawal.
Ramsey’s first goal calmed any nerves against what could have been a potential banana skin given how difficult Wales found it against Belarus in September.
He then added another layer of calmness by coolly dispatching his penalty to put the game beyond any reasonable doubt.
He’s been linked with a loan move away from Juventus and with assured performances like tonight, there should be a few suitors.
The Red Wall: Wales fans were in fine form once again. Ever since playing Ireland in 2017, it has been decided to play the anthem without a backing track, each time it sounds beautiful.
There were also some chants for David Brooks, who is undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma.
A round of applause then came in the 84th minute for Gary Speed, who managed his last game for Wales, a decade ago this week.
Sergei Chernik: There is no hiding place for the opposition goalkeeper who gifted Wales their goals.
He may have saved Ben Davies’ shot but he didn’t palm the shot away to safety enough and was punished by Ramsey.
The second goal has to go down as a sloppy error and one he could have dealt better with. Williams’ wasn’t in the best position but somehow his shot trickled under Chernik. To try and save grace he pulled the ball from over the goal line but with both goal line technology and VAR, he was consigned to conceding.
He couldn’t do as much for the third goal as there is always an expectation on the kick taker but from guessing the wrong way.
For the fourth goal, perhaps he needed to be a bit more demanding as the cross wasn’t too dangerous. Overall, it wasn’t a great night for him between the sticks.
Belarus: The defeat to Wales roots them to the bottom of the group which won’t do them any favours for the Nations League draw in December.
This was the 15th consecutive away defeat for them in World Cup qualifiers too and only San Marino, the world’s lowest-ranked side are on a longer losing run.
In the current rankings, the Belarusians are 10 places higher than Estonia so this will be seen as a finish below the expectations.
The rules on yellow cards: A total of eight Wales players were at risk of picking up a suspension this evening.
Unfortunately Ethan Ampadu was one who will miss the Belgium game through a yellow card he picked up.
Obviously it’s up to the players to avoid such bookings but to be suspended for two bookings throughout seven matches is a little bit harsh.
There’s also the possibility of more players missing the play-off match if they pick up a yellow against Belgium, a match where they may require a few cynical yellows.
Man of the Match
Aaron Ramsey: There’s been a feeling of frustration when Ramsey hasn’t been available for international duty but when he does play, he puts in a performance.
This was Ramsey at his best, strutting his stuff in the midfield, donning the captain’s armband and showcasing why he’s adored so much in his home country.
The statistics on FotMob look great for him as his two goals had an xG of 1.70, which made up a large portion of their 2.36 total.
In 46 of his passes, he had a 74% success rate and also made two opportunities in the freedom role he played in.
Wales (4-4-2): Danny Ward 6 (Wayne Hennessey, 89), Neco Williams 8, Joe Rodon 7, Ben Davies, 8, Connor Roberts, 7, Dan James 7, (Tyler Roberts, 76), Joe Allen 7, Aaron Ramsey 9, (Joe Morrell, 70;6), Ethan Ampadu 7, Harry Wilson 7, Gareth Bale (Brennan Johnson, 46;6)
Belarus (4-4-2): Sergei Chernik (C) 3, Kirill Pechenin 5, Maksim Shvetsov 5, Nikita Naumov 5 Ruslan Yudenkov 5 (Artem Kontsevoy 81;6), Aleksandr Selyava 5, Nikolai Zolotov 6, (Roman Yuzepchuk, 69;5), Evgeni Yablonski 5, Vitali Lisakovich 5 (Ivan Bahkar, 81;5), Pavel Sedko 5, (Dmitri Antilevski, 59), Vladislav Klimovich 5. (Max Ebong, 69;5)
Attention now turns to Tuesday when Roberto Martínez’s Belgium come to the Cardiff City Stadium.
It’s the final qualifier for Wales before their play-off match in March. Whether they’re home or away is yet to be decided. They find out their opponent on Friday, November 26 at 4:00 pm UK time.
For Belarus meanwhile, this was their last match of qualifying. They’re not going to be involved in the play-offs so they won’t play a competitive game until June for the 2022/23 Nations League.