Giggs doubles up to play captain's role as Wales exit on a high

Wales 2 Azerbaijan 0
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The Independent Football

Giggs grabbed his first with a third-minute curling free-kick, just like the one he scored in Belfast at the weekend. His second was a fine solo effort early in the second half.

Wales could not have had a better start. From a free-kick on the edge of the Azerbaijan penalty area Giggs stepped up to leave goalkeeper Dmitry Kramarenko flat-footed in the centre of the goal, with the ball nestling in the left of his net.

The visitors nearly hit back soon afterwards. Emin Imamaliev thought he had scored with a crisp shot, but Paul Jones got his body in the way and the ball arched over the bar.

Six minutes into the second half Giggs struck a superb second goal. He picked up the ball 40 yards out, cruised past Emin Agayev and Rashad Sadygov before cutting into the centre and leaving Farrukh Ismailov for dead before curling a stunning second into the top corner.

John Toshack, the Wales manager, said: "Ryan has become our pied piper, and he deserved a hat-trick after the best move of the game. We took him off near the end because he felt some pain in his back, but it is nothing serious. He had certainly given a man-of-the-match performance."

Wales (4-4-2): P Jones (Millwall); Delaney (Aston Villa), J Collins (West Ham United), Gabbidon (West Ham United), D Collins (Sunderland); Davies (Everton), Fletcher (Watford), Robinson (Sunderland), Vaughan (Crewe Alexandra); Hartson (Celtic), Giggs (Manchester United). Substitutes used: Ricketts (Swansea City) for D Collins, 54; Crofts (Gillingham) for Fletcher, 69; Cotterill (Bristol City) for Giggs, 73.

Azerbaijan (4-4-2): Kramarenko; Shukurov, Agaev, Sadygov, Amirbekov; Kerimov, Guliyev, Muzika, Ismailov; Imamaliev, Tagizade. Substitutes used: Poladov for Shukurov, 69; Bakshiyev for Amirbekov, 80.

Referee: M Hansson (Sweden).