Giggs had a fine homecoming in his first competitive match as Wales boss
Ryan Giggs had a competitive debut to remember as Wales began their Nations League campaign in style with a 4-1 demolition of the Republic of Ireland in Cardiff.
Tom Lawrence, Gareth Bale – with his 30th goal for Wales – Aaron Ramsey and Connor Roberts were on target before Republic substitute Shaun Williams netted a consolation for the visitors.
The victory might not have erased the pain of Wales’ World Cup elimination last October when the Republic won 1-0 at the same Cardiff City Stadium venue.
But the manner of the performance, with talented youngsters Ethan Ampadu and David Brooks excelling on their first competitive starts and Bale at his brilliant best, gave a tantalising glimpse of the bright future that could lie ahead under manager Giggs.
Wales were determined to make amends for their World Cup heartbreak and confident Chelsea youngster Ethan Ampadu was instantly at the heart of everything.
It was the teenager’s fine crossfield ball that sparked the move leading to Lawrence’s sixth-minute opener.
Roberts and Brooks were both involved before Joe Allen fed Lawrence and the Derby forward drilled his shot inside Republic goalkeeper Darren Randolph at his near post.
Wales doubled their advantage in style after 17 minutes as Ben Davies picked off O’Dowda’s pass and his raking ball sent Bale scampering free down the right.
The Republic were unable to stop Bale cutting inside on to his favourite left foot from 20 yards and there was no doubt that the ball would fly past Randolph for his landmark goal.
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Randolph pushed out efforts from Lawrence and Bale before Ampadu, pulling the strings throughout in midfield, delivered a perfectly weighted ball for Ramsey to again expose Randolph at his near post.
Wales made it 4-0 in the second half when Bale’s square ball was expertly finished by Roberts for the 22-year-old’s first goal in senior football.
Bale almost added another moments later with an audacious chip before Williams pounced on Ramsey’s 66th-minute slip to give the Republic some cheer and reduce the arrears.
Substitute Tyler Roberts was denied a debut goal by Randolph’s fingertips as Giggs gave Bale a breather ahead of their trip to Denmark on Sunday.
But Wales’ first competitive win over the Republic in five attempts was never in doubt.