By Paul Jones
Wales manager Robert Page declared it a case of “job done” after his team continued a promising start to their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign by beating Latvia 1-0 in Cardiff.
Kieffer Moore’s first-half header made the difference, with the victory following a 1-1 draw away to Croatia three days ago.
It gave Wales four points out of a possible six, with Moore’s 10th international goal separating the sides.
“We knew the challenges we were going to be up against,” Page said.
“We got a point in Croatia and have then won the home game, so it’s job done.
“We created chances to win that game comfortably, and we nullified their threat.
“We know the importance of Kieffer. He played 90-odd minutes for us and the goal was excellent.
“We won’t get carried away. It is a great start for us. It’s an eight-game season, and the first two games have gone really well for us. There is a good energy in the changing room.”
FT: Wales 1-0 Latvia.
If you offered me four points out of a potential six from Croatia and Latvia at the start of the international break, I would’ve snapped your hand off.
Joe Morrell, Harry Wilson & Dan James the stand outs for me tonight. Only disappointment for me was we… pic.twitter.com/7uuNApiG0Y
— Jordan (@JordanWebber96) March 28, 2023
Gareth Bale was given a rousing send-off by Wales supporters before the game following his retirement from football in January, having flown in from his Los Angeles home.
And Page added: “Gareth was with us last night. He had an evening meal with us, and he came in to see the lads before the game.
“He had his moment with the supporters, and rightly so. It would have been really special for him.”
Wales’ next qualifying game is at home to group minnows Armenia in June, leaving Page with plenty of time to reflect on a strong opening in the quest for a place at next year’s finals in Germany.
“The way the players trained this week, and the build-up to Croatia, was very good,” Page said.
“The first steps were on Saturday night, and we played a certain way again tonight. We knew we had to be patient with the ball, and I think everyone could see the energy within the team.
“We have got strength in depth, and there are great additions to come back into it.”
Latvia head coach Dainis Kazakevics, meanwhile, had no qualms with the result after his side began their qualifying series on a losing note.
“Wales were stronger,” he said. “While we could have done better, they had more possession and chances.
“Moore and (Aaron) Ramsey were two of the players we had identified before the game and, along with their wingers, were the main threats. In our preparations, we gave them most attention.
“We cannot be satisfied with the result.”
Wales endured a frustrating start to the game, but they took the lead just before half-time (41) as Moore rose to meet Dan James’ cross to clinch victory over the group’s lowest-ranked team.
After nicking a point in Croatia with a dramatic late goal in their first game, Wales are now level with Zlatko Dalic’s side on four points but ahead on their head-to-head record thanks to Nathan Broadhead’s goal in Split.
The opener came four minutes before the break through Moore as he leapt highest to head James’ lofted delivery into the bottom corner to inject some life into the Cardiff City Stadium.
Wales were buoyed by their opener and twice came close to doubling their lead early in the second half only for Latvia goalkeeper Steinbors to keep out efforts from Neco Williams and Wilson, tipping the former’s strike on to the frame of the goal.
Latvia – ranked 133rd in the FIFA world rankings – battled hard but failed to find a way back into the contest owing to a shortage of quality as Wales controlled the game and moved into a strong position in Group D after two games.
Kieffer Moore’s first-half header is enough for Wales!#BBCFootball pic.twitter.com/gBegAI8nmd
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) March 28, 2023
Wales continue their Euro 2024 Qualifying campaign on June 16 when they host Armenia in Cardiff – kick-off 7.45pm.
Robert Page’s side then travel to Turkey on June 19 – kick-off 7.45pm.
Latvia’s next game is at home to Turkey on June 16 – kick-off 7.45pm – before they travel to Armenia on June 19, kick-off 5pm.
Germany are hosting the tournament finals, which are scheduled to take place from June 14 to July 14 2024.
The format will be the same as Euro 2020, where the top two in each of the six final tournament groups will proceed to the round of 16, along with the four best third-placed finishers.