Euro 2016 Report: Russia 0 - 3 Wales

Mon, Jun 20 2016

Joe Allen was instrumental in Wales' 3-0 win over Russia. Credit: Al Robinson

A scintillating Welsh performance saw them dismiss a diabolical Russian side 3-0, a result which ensured Wales progressed to the last-16 as winners of Group A and which confirmed Russia's elimination from Euro 2016.
From the first whistle it looked like only one team was interested in winning the game. This result makes England's failure to beat Russia look all the more perplexing and, coupled with their failure to win against Slovakia, has cost the Three Lions top spot – something which will no doubt amuse Welsh fans, despite their defeat to England on Matchday 2.
Overall, it is a deserved outcome, especially given the way Wales flew out of the blocks in Toulouse. Their energy rattled Russia, who couldn't contain them. This failure was punished when Wales opened the scoring in the 11th minute.
Some excellent ingenuity from the two Welsh midfielders, Joe Allen and Aaron Ramsey, made the goal. Firstly, Allen turned sharply when collecting a loose ball in the centre of the park and he chipped an inch perfect pass into the path of the onrushing Ramsey.
The Arsenal midfielder, under pressure from two retreating Russian defenders, kept his cool as he approached the edge of the penalty area to dink the ball over the advancing Igor Akinfeev. It was Ramsey's first Welsh goal for two years.
Wales' second in the 20th minute owed much to good pressing and then a large dose of fortune. Neil Taylor won the ball back deep in his own half, with the ball falling to Ramsey. Wales pushed forward, the ball finding Bale who came infield in search of a killer pass or shooting opportunity.
Russian skipper Roman Shirokov nicked the ball off an unsighted Bale, but the ball actually ran beyond his own defence and into the path of the untracked Taylor who had come down the left flank to join the attack he himself instigated by winning possession.
Being a defender, Taylor wouldn't be used to this type of one-on-one situation and it showed as he waited and waited, hoping for support. With Akinfeev advancing from his line the Swansea City defender had a shot which the 'keeper saved – but Taylor composed himself to bury the rebound home for his first ever international goal.
Vokes tried to get in on the act in the 26th minute but his downward header from Chris Gunter's cross never troubled Akinfeev. Straight from the 'keeper's kick-out from his hands Russia almost equalised. 
The long ball caught out the Welsh defence, with Williams getting a foot onto it which only deflected the pall into the path of Artyom Dzyuba. The striker fired first time on the half-volley but Wayne Hennessy had come off his line quickly and made a good save at the edge of his own box.
This began a brief spell of Russian possession as Wales took their foot off the gas. Yet it was a Welsh break which nearly led to the next goal in the game after 30 minutes. Bale sprinted the length of the pitch and beat his man on the edge of box who fouled him. The ball rolled to Vokes but he didn't connect with his finish properly and Akinfeev saved.
Russia's 'keeper was kept busy and was forced into an unorthodox save from a long range Ramsey drive in the 32nd minute – the CSKA Moscow stopper recoiled slightly and almost volleyballed the shot away using his arms. He did not fancy catching it.
Aleksandr Kokorin had a pop from distance three minutes later and saw his shot deflect just wide of the post with Hennessy wrong-footed. In the 37th minute Wales broke but Bale greedily shot from distance when he had options in Vokes and Ramsey on the edge of the shot. Akinfeev was able to hold at the second attempt.
Bale ran at the Russians again three minutes later but he was forced too wide and couldn't generate the power to trouble Akinfeev. Russia countered and a dangerous ball from Igor Smolnikov was just too high for Feder Smolov, who had jumped a fraction too early, diverting it away from goal.
Both sides traded chances on the stroke of half-time, Ramsey was crowded out while Smolov's effort from an angle was straight at Hennessy. The theme of the second half was that Russia had plenty of possession without ever really looking like they would score. And of course it was Wales who had the better chances.
In the 55th minute, Vokes won the ball and played it to Ramsey who in turn slipped Bale in behind. His dinked effort couldn't clear Akinfeev who saved having come off his line. The Real Madrid winger then broke at pace moments later, but instead of using Ramsay who was making a run, he had a shot which didn't trouble the 'keeper.
This would infuriate Ashley Williams in the 61st minute when Denis Glushakov fired his shot into the ground and wide after a poorly cleared Russian corner, who urged his teammates not to let up. Six minutes later, Bale would oblige his skipper by getting the goal he himself craved all night.
Gunter carried the ball down the right and played it to Ramsey, who in turn slipped Bale through on the left side of the box. He seemed to get the ball caught under his foot, but was able to use the outside of his left boot to dink it around Akinfeev who was once more left exposed. At 3-0 it was most definitely over now.
Russia would have one more very good chance to get at least a consolation, but a sliding Dzyuba could only direct Pavel Mamaev's excellent cross over the bar from six yards. This summed up not only Russia's night but also their tournament as they were sent packing.
Russia: Igor Akinfeev; Igor Smolnikov, Vasili Berezutski (Aleksei Berezutski, HT), Sergei Ignashevich, Dmitri Kombarov; Fyodor Smolov (Aleksandr Samedov, 52), Pavel Mamaev, Denis Glushakov, Aleksandr Kokorin; Roman Shirokov (Aleksandr Golovin, 52); Artyom Dzyuba.
Subs not used: Yuri Lodygin, Oleg Ivanov, Guilherme Marinato, Roman Shishkin, Dmitri Torbinski, Artur Yusupov, Georgi Shchennikov, Roman Neustadter, Oleg Shatov.
Bookings: P Mamaev (65).
Wales: Wayne Hennessy; Chris Gunter, James Chester, Ashley Williams, Ben Davies, Neil Taylor; Joe Allen (David Edwards, 74), Joe Ledley (Andy King, 76), Aaron Ramsey; Gareth Bale (Simon Church, 83); Sam Vokes.
Subs Not Used: Danny Ward (GK), Owain Fon Williams (GK), David Cotterill, James Collins, David Vaughan, George Williams, Ashley Richards, Hal Robson-Kanu, Jonathan Williams.
Bookings: S Vokes (16).
Referee: Jonas Eriksson (SWE).
Attendance: 33,100.
Extratime Man of the Match: Joe Allen (Wales).