Gary Speed demanded Wales maintain their progression, but in the event they did rather more than that. The Dragons ensured their upgrade went up several notches.
Wales proved their performance against England was more than just a valiant showing with a comprehensive win over Switzerland at the Liberty Stadium last night.
This night in Swansea represented Speed's most promising 90 minutes as an international manager. With the likes of Craig Bellamy, Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey looking ultra-comfortable in an attacking system, Switzerland failed to live with their Premier League class.
With a win in Bulgaria on Tuesday, third place remains possible for a Welsh side who lost their first four matches in Group G of European Championship qualifying. Yet the mood in the valleys is not "if only" but "what might be" with so much burgeoning talent building on the promise of their last two games.
It took them a while to find their feet. Indeed, in the first half it seemed a tale of missed opportunities as Wales were guilty of wasting several chances. Switzerland looked urgently for a win they needed to make it a showdown at home against Montenegro on Tuesday to decide who would go forward to the play-offs. The reports came through of England's early goal at the Podgorica City Stadium and their challenge was put in an even starker perspective.
In truth, they were lucky to survive before half-time. Steve Morison, the Norwich striker, saw Diego Benaglio divert his shot over from close range. Earlier Ramsey failed to find Bellamy, who was off target with two good efforts, with the Liverpool forward unmarked in the box. The best Switzerland could muster was when Fabian Frei headed over.
Saying that, they did believe they had broken the deadlock five minutes after the restart as Xherdan Shaqiri's free-kick was bundled in by Eren Derdiyok, but the Bayer Leverkusen forward was ruled offside.
It was then the hosts' turn to feel hard done by as Bale appeared to be felled by Timm Klose as he raced into the box, but the appeals were waved away by the referee Bjorn Kuipers. The Dutch official was again the centre of attention as he showed Switzerland's Reto Ziegler a straight red card after going into a challenge on Chris Gunter with his studs up.
That was the start of the end. Klose's crude challenge on Gunter saw Kuipers point to the spot and Ramsey's rather tame effort could not be kept out by Benaglio. Bale then despatched the goal he deserved and the Dragons' night was complete.
Wales (4-4-2): Hennessey; Gunter, Blake, A Williams, Taylor; Bale, Crofts (Vaughan, 82),Ramsey, Allen; Bellamy, Morison (Church, 82).Substitutes not used Myhill, Matthews, Nyatanga, Edwards, Robson-Kanu. Booked Blake.
Switzerland (4-5-1): Benaglio; Lichtsteiner, Senderos, Klose, Ziegler; Frei (Emeghara, 71), Inler, Shaqiri (Rodriguez, 62), Xhaka (Mehmedi, 81), Behrami; Derdiyok. Substitutes not used Wolfli, Von Bergen, Degen, Fernandes.
Booked: Von Bergen, Klose. Sent off Ziegler (55).
Referee: B Kuipers (Netherlands).Reuse content