Knock-outs beckon for Wales after a famous win over Turkey

Gareth Bale misses a penalty but creates two as Welsh Dragon roars in the Land of Fire

Turkey 0 Wales 2

The defining moment of an absorbing contest belonged to Aaron Ramsey, whose sumptuous finish from a delicious, tailor-made Gareth Bale pass that gave Wales the initiative for a victory that should go some way to cementing their place in the knock-out stages of the European Championship. Ramsey rolled back the years with a majestic performance and even Bale’s wild second-half penalty miss could not dampen the mood on another memorable night for Wales, with Connor Roberts adding a second in stoppage time.

The weight of a partisan crowd seemed to act as a burden for a Turkey team who remain pointless. Wales, in their yellow away kit, seemed to thrive despite the oppressive heat. Danny Ward made a fine save from a late Turkey corner and Ramsey made a vital interception as the substitute Mert Mulder was located in space inside the box but, suddenly, Wales’ final Group A game against Italy on Sunday does not feel quite so pivotal.

Ramsey applied a glorious finish but Bale, inevitably, was the architect. It was the third time in an oscillating first half that they had combined but on this occasion, three minutes before the interval, it was to devastating effect. Bale dropped deep into a pocket of space close to halfway and spied Ramsey’s angled run and, while Okay Yokuslu pointed at the No 10, alerting his teammates, no Turkey player tracked him and Ramsey roamed into the box unmarked. What happened next was a thing of beauty. Ramsey chested Bale’s flighted pass with his first touch and side-footed in with his second.


Azerbaijani locals turned out in force to support their closest ally. Turkey were the first country to recognise Azerbaijan’s independence in 1991, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and their military might helped Azerbaijan overpower Armenia during last year’s conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. During the Turkish anthem, a banner that read “Tek millet iki devlet” – one nation, two states – bookended by flags of both Azerbaijan and Turkey was unfurled in the main stand.

But for the three minutes that followed Ramsey’s effortless take and finish, only a couple of hundred of delirious Wales supporters, spilled across two blocks in the corner of this stadium, could be heard.

Bale would have raced through on Ugurcan Cakir’s goal on 36 minutes but for a superbly timed tackle by Caglar Soyuncu. At the other end, Joe Rodon put in a boisterous and business-like display in the centre of the Wales defence.

The last time these countries met, in 1997, the game ended with the countries sharing 10 goals and, at one point, a repeat did not seem so daft. Ramsey passed up two divine opportunities, with the midfielder forcing Cakir into a fine stop, the goalkeeper repelling his effort with his right foot, before later blazing over from an almost identical move to the one he later scored from. Ramsey clasped both hands together as if to pray. It seemed to do the trick.

Ramsey wheeled away towards the tunnel, running to embrace the substitute Chris Gunter, his best friend and best man at his wedding. Ramsey moved gracefully and effortlessly, causing havoc on the half-turn.

At half-time Senol Gunes made a double substitution and reintroduced Merih Demiral, having dropped the Juventus defender in favour of Kaan Ayhan, whose first-half header was the catalyst for a swell of Turkey pressure. In the second half, it was Ayhan’s flick from the remnants of a corner that presented the captain, Burak Yilmaz, with a glorious opening, which he somehow failed to capitalise on. The ball dropped on the edge of the six-yard box but he spooned over.

Then it was Bale’s turn. With an hour gone, Bale skipped towards the Turkey box and lured the right-back Zeki Celik into conceding a penalty, via a cheap foul on the perimeter of the area. The throng of Wales supporters bobbed with joy and up stepped Bale to take the spot-kick. Bale stuttered once, and then again, but sent his effort ballooning over. Not that it mattered, with Roberts poking home from close range after Bale chose to dribble towards goal following a late corner to send the Wales supporters wild. - Guardian