Wales moved into second place in World Cup qualifying Group E with a 5-1 victory over Belarus on a night where Gareth Bale won his 100th cap.
Wales flew out of the blocks, taking the lead inside two minutes when Aaron Ramsey was on hand to tap home after Ben Davies’ strike was parried into his path.
Neco Williams doubled their advantage on 18 minutes when his tame strike somehow squirmed beyond the clutches of Belarus goalkeeper Syarhey Chernik. Bale, who became just the second Welshman to play 100 times for his country – joining Chris Gunter, was replaced at half-time with a calf injury as his fitness struggles continue.
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Ramsey stepped up in Bale’s absence to convert a penalty on 50 minutes before Davies scored his first international goal when heading home a Harry Wilson corner. Artyom Kontsevoy scored a stunning consolation but Conor Roberts restored the four-goal cushion in the last minute.
Wales’ player ratings
Wales: Ward (7), Ampadu (7), Rodon (7), B Davies (8), Roberts (7), Ramsey (8), Allen (7), N Williams (9), Bale (7), Wilson (7), James (6)
Subs: Johnson (7), T.Roberts (7), Morrell (7)
Man of the match: Neco Williams
The result moves Wales three points ahead of Czech Republic in second place with Belgium the final visitors to Cardiff on Tuesday.
Wales have already guaranteed a play-off spot through the Nations League but finishing second gives them a chance of being at home in the play-off semi-finals, although they need to claim as many points as possible to give them the best chance of being seeded. A draw on Tuesday will be enough to secure second spot ahead of the Czechs.
The play-off draw for the European nations takes place in Zurich on Friday, November 26 at 4pm UK time.
How do the play-offs work?
The play-offs take place from March 24 to 29, with 10 group runners-up joined by the two best group winners from the 2020/21 UEFA Nations League overall ranking that have neither qualified directly as group winners, nor entered the play-offs already as group runners-up.
On November 26, the 12 teams will be drawn into three play-off paths for one-off semi-finals on March 24 and finals on March 29. The three path winners will qualify for the World Cup.
Tuesday 16th November 7:00pm
Kick off 7:45pm
Wales end their World Cup Qualifying campaign at home to Belgium on Tuesday, live on Sky Sports; kick-off at 7.45pm.