Paris, June 21 (IANS) Lifted by Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale, Wales dealt Russia an embarrassing 3-0 loss on Monday to claim first place in Group B heading into the knockout stage of Euro 2016.
The play of the Arsenal midfielder and the Real Madrid striker — with three goals in three matches — has allowed the Welsh side to exceed expectations and exact a measure of revenge for the Ryan Giggs-led squad that lost a playoff to Russia in Euro 2004, EFE news agency reported.
Russia was clumsy and careless in possession and it didn’t take long for the Welsh to make them pay.
Joe Allen pounced on an errant Russian pass in the 11th minute and delivered a beautiful ball to Ramsey, whose clinical finish left goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev with no hope.
Neil Taylor made it 2-0 for Wales in the 20th minute, converting on his second try after taking a long pass from Bale.
Headed for elimination, the Russians generated only one chance in the first half and Welsh keeper Wayne Hennessey was equal to the challenge when Artem Dzyuba let loose in the 27th minute.
Russia was equally ineffective on defence and Wales might have led 6-0 at the half but for Akinfeev’s heroics.
An unmarked Bale got the ball in the box in the 68th minute and beat Akinfeev to bring the score to 3-0.
Wales ends the group stage with six points, one ahead of England, held scoreless on Monday by Slovakia, who are well placed to qualify for the round of 16 as one of the best third-place finishers.