Belfast Telegraph

Red-hot James helps the Welsh pass Belarus test

Wales 1-0 Belarus

Goal king: Daniel James nets for Wales last night
Goal king: Daniel James nets for Wales last night

By Phil Blanche

Daniel James' first half goal gave Wales a 1-0 friendly victory over Belarus in Cardiff.

James has been in outstanding scoring form since his summer switch from Swansea to Manchester United, and the 21-year-old winger was on target again after 17 minutes.

Jonny Williams fed him down the left and James curled the ball brilliantly across goalkeeper Maksim Plotnikov from 18 yards and into the far corner of the net.

The goal lit up what was a low-key game played before one of Wales' smallest crowds in the 10-year history of the Cardiff City Stadium.

It had been feared the attendance would struggle to top the 6,373 figure that saw Wales lose a friendly to Australia in August 2011.

In the event, 7,666 turned up to see Wales record back-to-back wins after Friday's Euro 2020 qualifying success over Azerbaijan, but there was little atmosphere in the 33,000-capacity stadium.

Wales manager Ryan Giggs, who bore the brunt of some heavy criticism from supporters for a limp performance against Azerbaijan, will take positives from this contest.

There was a greater cohesion to much of their play than there was on Friday, while Giggs will be grateful for what was only a fourth clean sheet in 12 games.

Skipper Gareth Bale dropped to the bench as Bristol City midfielder Joe Morrell and Wigan striker Kieffer Moore were handed debuts.

Bale replaced goalscorer James five minutes after the restart.

Belarus briefly stirred when Denis Polyakov fired wide but Bale then somehow contrived to send the ball skywards from six yards.

The Real Madrid striker had a rueful smile as he ended up in the back of the net, knowing that he had should have scored his 33rd international goal.

But Wales safely held on for a morale-boosting victory before next month's more demanding Euro 2020 qualifiers against Slovakia and Croatia.

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