Rob Page calls the backing from his players ‘powerful’ after Wales beat Latvia

Aaron Ramsey and David Brooks were on target as the Dragons registered a second win in 14 attempts.

Phil Blanche
Monday 11 September 2023 23:16 BST
Wales manager Rob Page celebrates his side’s 2-0 win over Latvia in Riga (Tim Goode/PA)
Wales manager Rob Page celebrates his side’s 2-0 win over Latvia in Riga (Tim Goode/PA) (PA Wire)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

Rob Page called the backing from his players “powerful” after Wales bounced back into Euro 2024 qualifying contention with a 2-0 victory in Latvia.

A penalty from skipper Aaron Ramsey – his 100th career goal – and a delicious David Brooks chip deep into stoppage time put Wales within three points of a top-two place and lifted the pressure on under-fire manager Page.

Group favourites Croatia’s 1-0 victory in Armenia was further good news for Wales, who had only won once in 13 games before arriving in Riga.

Ramsey and others had backed Page during the build-up to a game many saw as pivotal in the manager’s tenure.

Page said of the players’ support: “It feels good, it feels powerful, absolutely – that’s a massive compliment to myself from the players.

“I’ve just said to them, even the lads that have not played, they all play a part. There are no bad eggs in that changing room.

“Pressure doesn’t exist, it is created from outside influence.

“We did our best as staff to try to not let that penetrate the bubble and keep as calm as possible.

“We knew it was going to be a tough test for us after their heavy defeat. It wasn’t just about the win, I thought the performance was outstanding.

“For the first 35 minutes of the first half, we were outstanding, kept the ball. We got the goal and then retreated a little bit, which we’ll address.”

Wales had numerous chances to put the game beyond Latvia after Harry Wilson was bundled over in the box after 28 minutes and Ramsey converted from 12 yards.

But none were taken until the sixth minute of stoppage time when Brooks, on for the injured Ramsey, accepted Wilson’s pass to slot home his first Wales goal since recovering from cancer last year.

Page said: “The pressure came from the outside, understandably, but we never questioned it within the group.

“We knew we had to give a positive reaction after the disappointment of June (Euro 2024 campaign defeats to Armenia and Turkey) and we absolutely have – and some.

“A great performance against a very, very good (South) Korea team last week and followed it up with a completely different test against a very physical team that went back to front quite a bit.

“We had to win first contacts and second balls.

“And people like young Jordan James stepping in when we asked him to and developing the young players into this team. He was outstanding again.”

Ramsey paid tribute to his replacement Brooks, who has had to be patient to return to the international stage after illness and injury.

“It wasn’t easy, a lot of teams have come here and struggled,” Ramsey told S4C, while adding that he came off early in the second half as a precaution and will be fit for Cardiff’s South Wales derby against Swansea on Saturday.

“To come here and win with two goals is fantastic, Brooksy as well, it’s good for us.

“He’s so important for us and it’s nice for him to score. We’re just happy to have him back.”

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