Bale and Ramsey revive classic Wales combination

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June 18, 2021
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    Uefa Euro 2020 on the BBC
    Dates: 11 June-11 July. Venues: Amsterdam, Baku, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Glasgow, London, Munich, Rome, Seville, St Petersburg. Coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC Radio 5 Live, iPlayer and the BBC Sport website and app. Click here for more details

    The fervent Turkey-supporting crowd of more than 30,000 were silenced to such an extent that, when the final whistle blew in Baku, all you could hear were the joyous cries of Wales' players.

    Wednesday's 2-0 victory over Turkey was arguably their best performance and result since Euro 2016, an inspiring campaign which culminated in a first semi-final in Wales' history.

    Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey played leading roles during that golden summer in France and, under the night skies of Euro 2020's eastern outpost, Wales' stars sparkled once more.

    It has not always been that way. By their high standards, both players have had to endure periods of frustration since the last European Championship, hindered by injuries or a lack of regular action with their clubs.

    But on Wednesday evening, Bale and Ramsey summoned the spirit of 2016 to take Wales to within touching distance of the Euro 2020 knockout stages.

    The two combined beautifully for Wales' opening goal, captain Bale lifting a superb pass over the Turkish defence for Ramsey to control and finish with a flourish.

    Bale then missed a penalty in the second half but, undeterred by that setback, he set up Connor Roberts to score Wales' second in added time.

    "It's difficult to compare with 2016 but it's still a fantastic win," said Bale.

    "We'll enjoy this, this evening and tomorrow and then we'll look ahead to the next game."

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    That next encounter will be the Group A finale against leaders and favourites Italy at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

    For Ramsey, the match will have added significance. Playing his club football for Juventus, he will be on familiar ground in Azzurri territory.

    There was familiarity too in Baku. His goal against Turkey – the brilliant assist, the confident finish, the moment's significance – had more than a passing resemblance to the goal he scored to set Wales on their way to an exhilarating 3-0 win over Russia in their final group game in 2016.

    Ramsey was named in the team of the tournament that year and, while these are still early days in this summer's edition, the 30-year-old is proving once again how he can rise to the biggest occasions.

    "I felt a bit of relief. I had two chances before to score but that first half today was superb, we really dominated," he said.

    "In the second half we showed great character and I think we thoroughly deserved the win.

    "We've given ourselves a brilliant opportunity now, we've got another big game to go, we are in a good position now.

    "I've got a few [Juventus] team-mates playing for Italy so it will be nice for me out there, but I'm representing my country now and we will do everything to win that game."

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    'Players would walk on broken glass for Wales'

    It was not only in attack where Ramsey excelled against Turkey. When Mert Muldur bore down on the Wales goal in the second half with the lead still only 1-0, Ramsey appeared out of nowhere to dispossess him with a perfectly executed sliding tackle.

    It was a moment which captured Ramsey's performance: relentless, ubiquitous, decisive.

    "I thought Aaron was exceptional, and Gareth showed great character after missing the penalty," said interim Wales manager Robert Page.

    "Everybody wants to talk about those two but I thought the other nine were outstanding.

    "We've got a lot of players who don't play regularly for their clubs. What is it? Is it the crest on their chest that makes them raise their game? It must be.

    "It's playing for Wales. It's powerful and everybody would walk on broken glass to get into this squad."

    Group A table

    What next for Wales?

    Wales will need that bloody-minded determination for their next assignment against Italy.

    The Azzurri have not lost a competitive game in Rome since 1953, while their victory over Switzerland on Wednesday extended their unbeaten run to 29 matches. They are a force.

    It may be that Wales do not need to get anything from their final group fixture. No team with four points or more failed to progress to the second round at Euro 2016.

    Page's men already have four points but will be mindful that Switzerland will be able to match that amount with victory over Turkey on Sunday.

    A draw against Italy, therefore, would guarantee Wales' progress to the last 16 as runners-up in Group A. Victory would secure their passage as group winners.

    And such is the strength of their position after beating Turkey, Wales could even lose in Rome and still stand a very good chance of reaching the knockout stages, either as runners-up or as one of the tournament's four best third-placed teams.

    When Bale was asked after the game in Baku if their four points would be enough to progress, he said: "You'd like to think so, but of course we will have to see what happens.

    "If you offered us four points at the start I would have bitten your hand off, so we are happy."

    As Bale demonstrated with an impassioned speech to his players in the huddle after the final whistle, happy is an understatement.

    With the Azeri and Turkish fans silenced and long gone, it was the Welsh supporters – in their hundreds rather than their usual thousands owing to coronavirus restrictions – and players providing the atmosphere at an empty Baku Olympic Stadium after the final whistle.

    "Don't take me home" was the chant from the stands, a refrain from the magical 2016 campaign. If Bale, Ramsey and the rest can continue in this vein, it could be some time until Wales head home from Euro 2020.

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    1219 commentsShowLatestOldestHighest RatedMost Replied

    • V

      Comment posted by vvales, at 22:42 16 Jun

      Neutral fan here… no matter if it’s rugby or football wales always seem to do the business. Remarkable for such a small country with such humble folk,32551

      • A

        Reply posted by Adrian Hughes, at 23:15 16 Jun

        "Neutral fan here… no matter if it’s rugby or football wales always seem to do the business. Remarkable for such a small country with such humble folk,"Adrian Hughes replied: It’s great that we do so well at our National Sport. We’re also ok at rugby, but that’s more of a social event than a sporting one.66103

      More replies (63)

    • F

      Comment posted by fan1980, at 23:11 16 Jun

      Dreadful bile on here – a magnificent achievement giving a great feeling to a nation for the 2nd euro cup in a row. It’s so wonderful. What is wrong with you guys.24613

      • Removed comment

      More replies (8)

    • F

      Comment posted by Freedom2014, today at 00:11

      Proud Scot here, man am I jealous of you Welsh boyo’s.

      Well done lads, was cheering you on today, Wales were absolutely magnificent.

      Great football team, great rugby team, for such a small nation, man do you guys fair punch above your weight.

      Terrific performance today, can’t speak anymore highly of both an amazing people and an amazing country.19114

      • S

        Reply posted by Steve, today at 08:02

        "Proud Scot here, man am I jealous of you Welsh boyo’s. Well done lads, was cheering you on today, Wales were absolutely magnificent.Great football team, great rugby team, for such a small nation, man do you guys fair punch above your weight.Terrific performance today, can’t speak anymore highly of both an amazing people and an amazing country."Steve replied: That last sentence, actually think I brought my breakfast up at that point! There’s a line and you crossed it.38117

      More replies (17)

    • P

      Comment posted by Perivale Elvis, at 22:43 16 Jun

      It was a good team performance, not just about Bale and Ramsey.1454

      • I

        Reply posted by I love Fergie, today at 06:48

        "It was a good team performance, not just about Bale and Ramsey."I love Fergie replied: Thought Bale had put Wales into the space race with his penalty – has it come down yet?5413

      More replies (6)

    • J

      Comment posted by Jim Lorien, at 22:35 16 Jun

      Well done Wales – decent win.1245

      • L

        Reply posted by liverpool supporter right here, at 22:57 16 Jun

        "Well done Wales – decent win."liverpool supporter right here replied: Italy will be tough4010

      More replies (13)

    • L

      Comment posted by loveuk, at 23:23 16 Jun

      From an English supporter well done Wales, good result, happy for the citizens of Wales, a feel good result.1097

      • Removed comment

      More replies (6)

    • S

      Comment posted by ScotBrit54, at 22:37 16 Jun

      Well done Wales !!!!!
      Fantastic performance.1014

    • C

      Comment posted by Catsbreakfast, at 22:48 16 Jun

      It wasn’t just a win, it was a win in stifling heat played at real tempo in practically Asia against effectively a home crowd, which makes it even more impressive. Don’t forget Italy have been sat back in Rome with their trotters up. A chilled out walk in the park comparatively speaking and far tougher than playing in front of a home crowd at eg Wembley or Hampden, which is hardly acknowledged…10914

      • P

        Reply posted by paul, at 23:33 16 Jun

        "It wasn’t just a win, it was a win in stifling heat played at real tempo in practically Asia against effectively a home crowd, which makes it even more impressive. Don’t forget Italy have been sat back in Rome with their trotters up. A chilled out walk in the park comparatively speaking and far tougher than playing in front of a home crowd at eg Wembley or Hampden, which is hardly acknowledged…"paul replied: Best. Team. Ever1327

      More replies (5)

    • T

      Comment posted by Timshel, at 22:51 16 Jun

      Wales were brilliant, and I thought Ramsey, in particular, was sensational. It could have easily been 3 or 4 for Wales as well. Comfortably the best team.10312

      • T

        Reply posted by toffeebluepeter77, at 22:58 16 Jun

        "Wales were brilliant, and I thought Ramsey, in particular, was sensational. It could have easily been 3 or 4 for Wales as well. Comfortably the best team."toffeebluepeter77 replied: The oppistion we’re appalling anyone think you had won a major trophy 😂😂😂😂27263

      More replies (70)

    • C

      Comment posted by chewytoffee, at 22:45 16 Jun

      The boys have the Welsh pride in their blood.
      Its quite simply amazing that this pride runs deep in our football and rugby team.
      I was there the last competition and it was the most amazing experience of my life.9517

      • T

        Reply posted by toffeebluepeter77, at 22:59 16 Jun

        "The boys have the Welsh pride in their blood. Its quite simply amazing that this pride runs deep in our football and rugby team.I was there the last competition and it was the most amazing experience of my life."toffeebluepeter77 replied: Pride?? beating a terrible turkey team pride?? Are you being serious??27261

      More replies (36)

    • G

      Comment posted by gavp1983, at 22:39 16 Jun

      Amazing performance from the lads today, the team spirit on display was fantastic. Ramsey and Bale showing their class when it truly matters. Proud to be Welsh, C’mon Wales!735

      • J

        Reply posted by Johnt225, today at 06:47

        "Amazing performance from the lads today, the team spirit on display was fantastic. Ramsey and Bale showing their class when it truly matters. Proud to be Welsh, C’mon Wales!"Johnt225 replied: showed great class sky rocketing that penalty952

      More replies (7)

    • V

      Comment posted by viva espana, today at 01:17

      Hello from Scotland — Wales you’re a credit to your nation.
      I just pray we can join you in qualifying. Best of luck , Cymru596

      • H

        Reply posted by Hopalongprop, today at 06:55

        "Hello from Scotland — Wales you’re a credit to your nation. I just pray we can join you in qualifying. Best of luck , Cymru"Hopalongprop replied: pob lwc yr Alban266

      More replies (5)

    • M

      Comment posted by Mannie Power, at 23:02 16 Jun

      ‘Within touching distance’. Don’t be so stupid – they’re in the last sixteen.

      Where they’ll probably play Russia while England are playing Germany or Portugal.

      What are the odds of Wales going further than England again…6512

      • L

        Reply posted by liverpool supporter right here, at 23:10 16 Jun

        "‘Within touching distance’. Don’t be so stupid – they’re in the last sixteen. Where they’ll probably play Russia while England are playing Germany or Portugal. What are the odds of Wales going further than England again…"liverpool supporter right here replied: Oh great. Wales fans laughing at us again that we get knocked before they do258

      More replies (15)

    • B

      Comment posted by barca, at 22:45 16 Jun

      After the Swiss we were on a Roll

      Then we stuffed Turkey

      Now we will kick Italy’s Azzurri7725

      • P

        Reply posted by paul, at 23:17 16 Jun

        "After the Swiss we were on a RollThen we stuffed TurkeyNow we will kick Italy’s Azzurri"paul replied: Unlikely. But you are through and English hats off to you.719

      More replies (10)

    • G

      Comment posted by Googly, at 22:57 16 Jun

      Bale’s new role is defined – playmaker. Great vision, technically great, killer passes.

      What he isn’t – fast anymore, a tackler, composed enough to take a sensible penalty.

      And the skill to create a second at the death is more than just a cherry on top – goal difference could matter.484

      • O

        Reply posted by Owain, at 23:06 16 Jun

        "Bale’s new role is defined – playmaker. Great vision, technically great, killer passes.What he isn’t – fast anymore, a tackler, composed enough to take a sensible penalty.And the skill to create a second at the death is more than just a cherry on top – goal difference could matter."Owain replied: He’s no slouch , he’s not as electric as he once was … however the build up to the penalty and the second goal was hardly walking pace passing was it , was him ghosting around players … still454

      More replies (5)

    • S

      Comment posted by Spurs 61, today at 01:58

      Let’s support all our boys. We’re proud to represent all parts of our nation. Proud of Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.454

      • U

        Reply posted by U19529674, today at 05:29

        "Let’s support all our boys. We’re proud to represent all parts of our nation. Proud of Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland."U19529674 replied: Nope.730

      More replies (3)

    • H

      Comment posted by HKJ, at 22:46 16 Jun

      Cracking display, couple of squeaky moments, but on the whole a lot more comfortable than would have been predicted.

      And a belting match to watch to boot.424

    • G

      Comment posted by Gill, at 22:37 16 Jun

      Well done Wales, great to see your passion and appreciation at making your progression a simple formality.435

    • D

      Comment posted by dave, at 22:54 16 Jun

      I’d rather listen to Welsh commentary than Robbie Savage. It is torture, he is so biased and thick its painful. Well done Wales by the way7741

      • P

        Reply posted by paul, at 22:56 16 Jun

        "I’d rather listen to Welsh commentary than Robbie Savage. It is torture, he is so biased and thick its painful. Well done Wales by the way"paul replied: He is an atrocious commentator6533

      More replies (19)

    • S

      Comment posted by shuttythebest, today at 02:02

      Very much an English fan here,but Wales and Bale superb.They were totally dominant.They Will not win it but they have done their nation proud.English fans get behind them.We could learn a lot from them.335

      • G

        Reply posted by Gary, today at 10:04

        "Very much an English fan here,but Wales and Bale superb.They were totally dominant.They Will not win it but they have done their nation proud.English fans get behind them.We could learn a lot from them."Gary replied: Get behind Wales lol!! I’m sure the Welsh fans will be getting behind England !!!!!!! The Welsh,Scottish and Irish don’t like us and the feeling is mutual.917

      More replies (6)

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