Football / World Cup: Giggs drives Wales closer

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WALES came down from the mountainside last night with their credibility intact and their advance towards the World Cup finals unhindered by an experience the like of which they will not find anywhere else in Europe.

On a perilous surface in a stadium hewn out of a peak by a 50-ton blast of dynamite and perched 100 yards from the Atlantic ocean they produced a solid, professional performance to lift themselves to third in their qualifying group and raise higher their expectations of a place in next year's finals. A greater contrast to the jamboree which is certain to be the American finals would be hard to imagine as Terry Yorath's team accumulated vital points in front of a 4,209 crowd, a 10th of the population of these 18 islands which are dots half-way between Scotland and Iceland but, in truth, in the middle of nowhere.

A packed Old Trafford, or a team of fishworkers and a goalkeeper in a bobble hat: it makes no difference to Ryan Giggs, who was once again the man for the occasion, laying on all three goals. The young Manchester United maestro, with his own fan club among the Faroese, should have helped himself to two of his own, but forget that - in desolate outposts like this you need the unique brand of magic only he can provide.

As expected the part-timers put their all into the early skirmishes in an attempt to unsettle their visitors. Consequently there were one or two anxious moments before Giggs's first meaningful contribution enabled Wales to take a 23rd-minute lead. Now transferring to the left in an attempt to lose his posse of markers, the 19-year-old left two defenders standing before delivering a ball into the danger zone where Dean Saunders bundled it through Jens Martin Knudsen's grasp for only his second international goal in 12 appearances.

From another Giggs delivery Mark Hughes muffed a chance but it did not matter as the second goal materialised in the 32nd minute. Giggs's corner was headed home by Eric Young, his first goal for Wales.

They could have filled their boots after the interval but had to make do with Ian Rush's 25th goal on his 60th appearance, a crashing volley at the end of another Giggs-Saunders move. The hard-working Aston Villa striker also hit a post and the Portsmouth defender Kit Symons twice struck the woodwork in the final eight minutes.

FAROE ISLANDS: Knudsen (GI Gota); Jakobsen (HB Torshavn), T Hansen (B 36 Torshavn), Johannesen (TB Tvororiy), A Justinussen (GI Gota), Reynatugvu (B 71 Sandur), Nielsen (SIS Sandvagur), Dam (HB Torshavn), A Hansen (B 68 Toftir), Reynheim, Arge (both HB Torshavn). Substitute: Mohr (HB Torshavn) for Reynatavgu, 50; Rasmussen (MD Midvagur) for Reynheim, 61.

WALES: Southall (Everton); Phillips (Norwich), Bodin (Swindon), Aizlewood (Bristol City), Young (Crystal Palace), Symons (Portsmouth), Horne (Everton), Saunders (Aston Villa), Rush (Liverpool), Hughes, Giggs (Manchester Utd). Substitutes: Melville (Oxford) for Young, h/t; Speed (Leeds Utd) for Hughes, 76.

Referee: V Zhuk (Belorussia)

----------------------------------------------------------------- GROUP FOUR ----------------------------------------------------------------- P W D L F A Pts Belgium 8 7 0 1 15 3 14 Romania 7 4 1 2 21 10 9 Wales 7 4 1 2 14 8 9 RCS 6 2 3 1 13 7 7 Cyprus 8 2 1 5 8 13 5 Faroe Islands 8 0 0 8 1 31 0 ----------------------------------------------------------------- Remaining matches: 16 June: Faroe Isles v RCS. 8 Sept: Wales v RCS; Faroe Isles v Romania. 13 Oct: Romania v Belgium; Wales v Cyprus. 27 Oct: RCS v Cyprus. 17 Nov: Wales v Romania; Belgium v RCS. -----------------------------------------------------------------

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