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Moldova 0-2 Wales: five things we learned

Wednesday 6th September 2017
It was a night full of anxiety. For 80 minutes, Wales' World Cup dreams hung in the balance. Predictably, another moment of magic from the man who gifted Wales three points against Austria just days ago saved Welsh blushes. Ben Woodburn's brilliance and more; here are five things we learned.

Bale and Ramsey fail to deliver

This was the perfect opportunity for Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey to shrug off their domestic form. Given freedom and time, this game was there for the taking - yet they failed to deliver. Bale and Ramsey tried too hard to impress, to pull off the spectacular. Against a side like Moldova, simplicity is more fruitful. Had Ramsey and Bale played neat football, predicated on movement and simple passing, and refused to try fancy flicks, searching cross-filed balls and top-corner goals, one gets the feeling the job would've been completed a lot earlier.

There's a new star

Woodburn's magnificent goal against Austria stole the headlines. A true test of ability, though, is consistency. Woodburn answered the call. His introduction injected pace and purpose into the game - on the biggest stage, the Liverpool man looked at home.

His bursting, fearless run from his own area was jaw-dropping. It struck an uncanny resemblance to the power and aggression that once defined Bale's game. Would he have the end product to complete a burst of speed that had left Moldova's defence exposed? You bet he did. A perfectly weighted ball headed home proficiently by Hal Robson-Kanu.

Defensive diligence resumed

The Welsh defence has been breached often this campaign - not a lot, but often enough to hamper qualification hopes. It has been the backbone of their remarkable rise, but it has looked fragile. Two clean sheets, albeit against Austria and Moldova, looked to have cast aside any defensive worries.

A superb stop by Wayne Hennessey in the final minutes will not be mentioned as much as Woodburn's assist, but it was also crucial. Had that gone in, Wales' may well have gone home with just a point, rather than three.

Wales' will need their defensive solidity to continue into the final two fixtures.

Dangerous Davies

Deployed at left-back, Ben Davies was a threat all night. Surging forward countless times, whipping in inviting crosses and involving himself in neat build up play, the Spurs man was one of Wales' most dangerous forward men - in a team that boasts the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Gareth Bale and Joe Allen, that is no mean feat.
Davies appeared to strike an understanding with both Lawrence and Woodburn, but it was more perceptible with the Liverpool youngster. One-twos, quick interchange and clever runs off the ball became a feature of their partnership. Hopefully, for Welsh fans, this partnership blossoms.

2 down, 2 to go

It was said Wales needed to win all four of their remaining matches, and that hasn't changed. Win their final matches and their guaranteed second place. They'll end up on 20 points - despite this, their playoff place seems precarious. For 9 sides will finish second in Europe, but only 8 can enter the playoffs, and Wales are at risk of being below the cutoff. As it stands, Wales are the 8th worst second placed team. Wales can only win and hope that they will have done enough to secure a playoff spot. The script is still the same.
Michael Jones

Football & political writer with a predictable love of everything retro. English Literature undergraduate at the University of Exeter, looking to pursue a career in sports journalism. For a collection of my work, visit. http://mikejonesmedia.wordpress.com

Follow me on twitter: @jonesmichael_97

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