Edwards leads Welsh lads to a battling victory
Azerbaijan 0 Wales 1
Sunday 07 June 2009
Wales' amazing youngsters grew up in front of John Toshack's eyes here, to claim their first away win in this World Cup Group Four qualifier. Toshack had been shorn of ten senior players for this trip to the shores of the Caspian and must have had doubts that this bunch of youngsters could handle such an occasion.
Azerbaijan are hard, physical and experienced but the Wales boys' brigade stood up to the task. This was always going to be a battle for them against a side determined to take advantage of their youth. The visitors were not helped by Swedish referee, Markus Strombergsson, who seemed lenient with Azeri players.
Woverhampton midfielder David Edwards scored the winner in the first half and from then on he and his team-mates battled for every inch.
Toshack said: "There was so much to be satisfied with. Considering the problems we have had it was a very pleasing performance and result. We were missing so many players and some of the lads who played have been out of training virtually for five weeks."
Captain Joe Ledley led by example, Edwards was outstanding and at the back Ashley Williams, Craig Morgan and Lewin Nyatanga withstood everything thrown at them.
Toshack added: "I don't want to pick out any player, they were all excellent, but Simon Church on his full debut gave us everything he had. He ran and worked all night and can be very happy with his display. Overall the team did very well. There were a lot of tired legs out there at the end, some of them could barely run after the effort they had put in, but there are a lot of better sides than us who have had a lot of trouble in Baku. Azerbaijan have improved considerably over the last five years and nobody hammers them these days."
There were only 79 Wales fans in the stadium, having had their tickets given to them by the FA of Wales, and Tosack added: "We had a handful of fans here and they deserved a result like this. I was more than happy to celebrate with them at the end, the team has done them proud."
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