By Kasey Rees
Ryan Giggs admitted Wales have to improve after Gareth Bale came to their rescue with the late winner in the 2-1 win over Azerbaijan in Cardiff.
The win for kept alive their hopes of qualifying for Euro 2020 despite a disappointing display against a side ranked 109th in the world.
Bale struck with a header to snatch victory to move Wales third in Group E level on points with Slovakia, but three points behind Croatia who thrashed the Slovakians 4-0 and table toppers Hungary after four games.
Giggs’ side are next up in a friendly against Belarus on Monday at the Cardiff City Stadium (7.45pm).
The Wales manager admitted: “I am happy with a crucial win, it was a tough game, but we got the three points.
“I wasn’t happy with the first half. We we made too many mistakes. Too many players off form, we needed to move the ball quicker.
“The players showed great character to come through and win it, so I am delighted about that but there were things I was disappointed with but we can work on those.
“We knew their would-be goals if we had stuck to our game plan that we worked on in training. We seemed to much in a rush to score and weren’t patient enough, but it was good that we got the second goal we needed.
“I have played in games like that and it is not easy, and you must always have that confidence on the ball.”
Wales started off slow in the first half, creating many chances for their side but grew frustrated when the only goal of the half came off the shoulder of Pavlo Pashaev as it rolled into the Azerbaijan net in the 26th minute for an own.
In what was a must win game for Ryan Giggs’ men, the home side were 1-0 up at the half time break, and after a sloppy first half performance they were looking to improve going into the second half.
After restarting the game, Wales looked on the front foot coming close to scoring on more than one occasion when Manchester United winger Daniel James’ shot at goal was deflected, with Joe Allen and Connor Roberts also missing the chance to get on the score sheet.
But it was Neil Taylor’s mistake that led to Azerbaijan’s equaliser in the 59th minute.
After earning man of the match for his winning goal, Giggs had nothing but praise for Gareth Bale as he was more than pleased with the performance from the Real Madrid forward.
He said: “He has scored so many important goals for Wales over the years, everybody looks up to him as a captain>”
Wales: W Hennessey, N Taylor, C Mepham, J Rodon, J Allen, H Wilson, G Bale ©, C Roberts, E Ampadu, T Lawrence, D James.
Substitutes: D Ward, A Davies, C Gunter, B Davies (80), M Smith, S Vokes (75), K Moore, J Lawrence, T Lockyer, J Williams (63), J Morrell, W Vaulks.
Azerbaijan: S Agayev, G Garayev, S Rahimov, M Medvedev ©, B Mustafazade, M Emreli, R Sheydaev, D Nazarov, A Krivotsyuk, R Almeida, Pavlo Pashayev
Substitutes: E Balayev, S Magomedaliyev, A Abdullayev, E Makhmudov, A Ramazanov, R Eyubov, O Buludov, R Dadasov, R Dadashov, T Khalilzade, J Huseynov
Match Attendance: 28.385