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Monday, 13 October 2014

Wales remain top by beating Cyprus

Wales top European qualifying Group B by beating Cyprus 2-1 with 10 men, thus extending there unbeaten run.

Chris Coleman's side has seen an increase in expectations over the past few days and they have managed to handle it, despite seeing Andy King sent off, had David Cotterill and Hal Robson-Kanu to thank for collecting them another three points on Monday.

Cyprus had an interesting start, Simon Church was forced off early and Gareth Bale sent sprawling with a robust challenge from Marios Nicolaou.

It did not take long, though, for the world's most expensive footballer and those around him to find their feet.

Just 13 minutes into the game and they scored with Cotterill, introduced in place of Church, saw a half-cleared corner returned in his direction and he whipped over a curling cross from the left which evaded those in the middle and nestled in the bottom corner.

There was a bit of luck with the opener, but there was nothing lucky about Wales' second 10 minutes later.

The Galacticos forward Bale sprinkled his magic dust on proceedings with a brilliant flick, paving the way for Robson-Kanu to race clear on goal and calmly slide between the legs of the onrushing Tasos Kissas.

Cyprus pulled a goal back on 36 minutes with a mistake from Wayne Hennessey, which he would want to forget.

Wales came within inches of restoring their two-goal cushion shortly before half-time, with Bale seeing a dipping drive from a set-piece touched onto the crossbar and up into the air and Joe Ledley his headed rebound nodded off the line.

Cotterill then beat the offside trap, but was forced too wide to beat Kissas, before Bale lashed a left-footed effort inches over the top as he opted for power over precision from the edge of the box.

Cyprus, who already shocked Bosnia-Herzegovina en route to France 2016, had begun to find space and passed the ball around purposefully as the opening 45 minutes came to a close and they started the second half in much the same manner.

Then King got a straight red-card shortly after the re-start, with the Leicester City midfielder given his marching orders after catching Constantinos Makrides high on the ankle with a late challenge from behind.

This made wales to play a compact and defensive game. Lapses in concentration threatened to be their undoing, with Georgios Efrem ghosting in unmarked at the back post just before the hour mark to plant a free header from a corner well wide of the target.

Wales were still committing men forward, though, and Cotterill saw another cross-shot from the left sail narrowly wide of the upright. Bale's presence was also keeping Cyprus on their toes and his electric pace took him away from his marker at one stage, only for an impossible angle to force him to poke across the face of goal rather than into it. The final warning shot for Wales arrived six minutes from time, with Efrem again finding space inside the box but unable to trouble Hennessey with a poor header that he looped over the top.

David Edwards was substituted in towards the end and nodded over at the opposite end of the field, as the clock ticked down, but two goals proved to be enough for the hosts as they made it seven points from a possible nine in their opening three fixtures.

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