Ryan Giggs hailed Gareth Bale for becoming Wales’ record goalscorer after the Real Madrid forward’s hat-trick against China got his managerial reign off to the perfect start.
Wales’ biggest win since a similar 6-0 success over San Marino in 1996 saw them through to the China Cup final against the Czech Republic or Uruguay on Monday.
Bale’s maiden international hat-trick – and the first by a Wales player since Robert Earnshaw against Scotland 14 years ago – took him to 29 goals from 69 appearances.
It moved him one above former Liverpool striker Ian Rush, who scored his 28 goals from 73 games during a Wales career lasting from 1980 to 1996.
“It is a tremendous achievement for Gareth, to be the top goalscorer in front of someone like Ian Rush – a legendary goalscorer and probably one of the best I have ever seen,” Giggs said.
“Probably once upon a time it was a record that many people thought would not get beaten.
“But Gareth has not only beat it, he will carry on scoring as he is a tremendous talent.
“It’s a fantastic moment for Gareth, he fully deserves it.”
Wales’ other scorers, Sam Vokes and Harry Wilson, also enjoyed landmark nights as Marcello Lippi’s China were swept aside in the first-ever fixture between the two nations in Nanning.
Vokes’ brace took him into double figures for his country, while Wilson – winning his second cap more than four years after becoming Wales’ youngest-ever player in 2013 – celebrated his 21st birthday in style.
Giggs was encouraged by the performances of Wilson and Declan John, while he gave several other youngsters an opportunity with the game won.
Brentford defender Chris Mepham made his debut as a second-half substitute and there were also run-outs for Ben Woodburn, Tom Lockyer, Lee Evans, Tom Bradshaw and Marley Watkins.
“We want to get that strength in depth,” Giggs said.
“Sometimes that has been an Achilles heel, if we have two or three players out then we struggle. We don’t want that any more.
“We want a competitive squad. If someone is missing through injury or suspension then we have someone to come in.
“There were some really good performances, Declan John was outstanding and it was a great night for a lot of individuals.
“That’s what we want, players looking over their shoulder.
“I was brought up in an environment where training was sometimes more difficult than the games and that is the kind of atmosphere that I want to generate.”