Wales boost World Cup hopes with hard-fought triumph in Moldova

Wales struck twice in the final 10 minutes to record a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Moldova and boost their World Cup qualification hopes.

Chris Coleman's side dominated for long periods in Chisinau but were missing the final touch to punish Group D's whipping boys.

But Wales - again inspired by Liverpool teenager Ben Woodburn - finally found the way to goal with Hal Robson-Kanu and Aaron Ramsey on target.

Woodburn's role in the deadlock-breaker was crucial as he surged down the left and his cross was met by the diving head of Robson-Kanu.

Wayne Hennessey produced a brilliant stop to deny Andrei Cojocari in stoppage time, but the result was put beyond doubt seconds later when Ramsey's deflected effort spun in.

The win lifted Wales into second place in Group D after the Republic of Ireland lost 1-0 at home to Serbia, who are now firm favourites to top the pool

But Wales will now be expected to at least take the runners-up spot, with the probable reward being a play-off place.

Wales - wearing a new all-yellow change strip to avoid a kit clash - famously lost in Chisinau in 1994 when Moldova celebrated their first game competitive fixture as an independent nation following the break up of the old Soviet Union.

But the Dragons arrived in high spirits following the dramatic weekend win over Austria which had rekindled hopes of World Cup qualification.

Robson-Kanu had the first chance of a cagey opening when he headed Ramsey's corner wide and there was concern for Wales when Gareth Bale was left in a crumpled heap by Alexandru Epureanu.

The Moldova captain was duly booked as Bale rose gingerly to his feet, but the challenge seemed to stir the hosts as Alexandru Dedov and Artur Ionita tried their luck from distance.

But Wales were almost ahead after 19 minutes when a quick break-out saw Tom Lawrence set up Bale from 20 yards and goalkeeper Ilie Cebanu failed to hold the shot.

Ramsey was first on the scene and denied by Cebanu redeeming himself, but even then Robson-Kanu would have forced the ball home but for Epureanu making a brilliant goal-line block.

Wales were dominating possession without asking too many questions, although when the ball sat up nicely for Ben Davies the left-back wasted no time in firing goalwards.

It was a decent effort, but again Cebanu was untroubled.

Wales showed more urgency at the start of the second period and Cebanu's handling was again called into question when he spilled Bale's attempt from the edge of the box.

Their first-half superiority was threatening to turn in to a siege as Moldova struggled to find way out of defence and Lawrence and Ramsey both had half-chances but failed to test Cebanu.

Hennessey had to make his first save of the night, albeit routine, when Moldova released the pressure valve and Dedov took aim from 20 yards.

Wales created one of their clearest sights of goal moments later, though. Robson-Kanu produced a lovely bit of skill to lose his marker but was unable to find the finish to match.

Wales turned to Woodburn on the hour and the Liverpool teenager was instantly into the action with a clipped cross which Robson-Kanu was just unable to reach.

A horrible mistake in the Wales defence, James Chester hesitating and Ashley Williams missing his kick, then almost gifted Radu Ginsari the opener.

But Ginsari dwelled on the ball and Chester got back to atone for his error.

Wales were starting to take risks at the back in order to force a winner and Sam Vokes was sent on to replace Andy King for the final quarter.

Bale almost cashed in when the ball broke loose in the six-yard box but Artiom Rozgoniuc showed superb awareness to deny Wales.

Ramsey fired over and it looked as if was going to be one of those oh-so-nearly nights for Wales. But late drama saw them home.


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