Football / World Cup: Wales are roused by Rush: Giggs takes full advantage of his first start

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The Independent Online
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WALES drew inspiration from the old and the new last night to produce their best performance of Terry Yorath's five-year managerial reign. A scoring record for Ian Rush and a remarkable full debut by Ryan Giggs enhanced by a stunning free-kick goal leaves their World Cup prospects looking decidedly healthier.

Giggs's impact was stunning. After five games as a substitute, an international star was born in the Arms Park stadium. Having lost that individual battle Belgium said goodbye to their 100 per cent record in Group Four. Yorath had spent many hours weighing up a formation that would accommodate Giggs and his exciting talent while leaving unaltered his side's other strengths.

While there is plenty of work ahead and Romania retain a point advantage over them, Wales know their capabilities and, crucially, they possess the Giggs factor which Yorath predicted could be Belgium's undoing.

The 19-year-old announced himself with a ninth-minute burst that burned off two defenders and left the full-back, Rudy Smidts, in no doubt as to what was in store for him. It prompted the crowd into song and lifted everyone of his team-mates. Ten minutes later Giggs struck with the kind of irresistible free-kick that has lit up his season at Old Trafford.

Mark Hughes and Rush instigated an exchange that ended when Danny Boffin halted Dean Saunders but was adjudged, harshly it seemed, to have fouled. From 20 yards Giggs pulled the trigger and the net bulged, the goalkeeper, Michel Preud'homme, was left groping in the draft.

Five minutes before half-time Saunders's cross was turned in by Rush, a header that took him to 24 international goals and a place in history as Wales's leading scorer ahead of Trevor Ford and Ivor Allchurch who had held the record for 37 years.

Wales had other chances and their failure to accept them left them vulnerable to the visitors who amidst their dismay at the decisions of the German referee produced sufficient quality football to worry Neville Southall. Georges Grun had a header cleared off the line and was then incensed when the referee waved away his protests after Kevin Ratcliffe had blocked his penalty-box charge.

Belgium's misery was complete a minute from time when Franky Van der Elst had a goal disallowed for offside. The only blots on the Welsh celebrations were bookings for Eric Young and Mark Aizlewood which will keep them out of the visit to Czechoslovakia later this month.

WALES: Southall (Everton); Horne (Everton), Bodin (Swindown) Aizlewood (Britsol City), Young (Crystal Palace), Ratcliffe (Cardiff), Saunders (Aston Villa), Speed (Leeds), Rush (Liverpool), Hughes (Manchester United), Giggs (Manchester United). Substitute: Phillips (Norwich) for Speed, 88.

BELGUIM: Preud'homme (Mechelen); Medved (Ghent), Grun (Parma), Albert (Anderlecht), Smidts (Antwerp), Staelens (Club Bruges), Van der Elst (Club Bruges), Boffin (Anderlecht), Degryse (Anderlecht) Scifo (Torino) Czerniatynski (Antwerp). Substitutes: Oliveira (Cagliari) for Medved, h/t; Severeyns (Antwerp) for Czerniatynski, 67.

Referee: A Schmidhuber (Germany).

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