Wales survive Gareth Bale penalty miss to beat Turkey at Euro 2020

Turkey 0-2 Wales: Goals from Aaron Ramsey and Connor Roberts earned the Welsh a first win of the tournament in Baku

Melissa Reddy
Senior Football Correspondent
Wednesday 16 June 2021 18:59
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Euro 2020: Daily briefing

A horrific penalty miss from Gareth Bale was no problem for Wales, who navigated that eye-widening gaffe as well as attacking desperation from Turkey to pave a path through to the last 16 of the Euros.

The headline name created the decisive moment of the match, but also cocked up the chance to make the contest more comfortable for his side. As Bale does though, he brilliantly powered his way past several markers to set up Connor Roberts at the death to decorate the scoreline.

The first fixture between Turkey and Wales at a major tournament may have been light on goals and final-third quality, but it was a ceaseless battle that quickened the pulse.

Around 34,000 filled the Olympic Stadium and the allegiance of the bulk in attendance was never in question.

Thousands of Turkish fans travelled to Baku, while Azerbaijan's close ties with their neighbours ensured local supporters also used their voices to encourage Senol Gunes’ men.

The audience was treated to a frantic, a high-energy affair, with the opening coloured by some superb combination play between Bale and Ramsey.

The pair provided several warnings of the former’s passing range to hit the deep runs of the Juventus midfielder, but Turkey were blind to them.

Six minutes in, Bale delivered a perfectly weighted throughball for Ramsey, who ghosted into the area untracked. He cut inside and aimed for the near post, but Ugurcan Cakir killed the threat.

A copy and paste of the pass and movement from the duo ended with Ramsey rushing his effort and blasting over the bar.

With Turkey none the wiser, it was third time lucky for Wales. The captain and talisman supplied another delightful ball lofted towards Ramsey’s dart from deep. The 30-year-old controlled wonderfully on his chest and thundered past Cakir.

Turkey seemed stunned by the sequence, even though they had been continued witnesses to mirroring moves.

Having been completely anaemic in attack during their opening stinker against Italy, Gunes’ side were more positive in Baku but without causing too much discomfort.

On the half-hour mark, Joe Morrell cleared a Kaan Ayhan header off the line and that was Turkey’s closest moment before the interval.

Offence has not been as much of a concern as their inability to defend - with the rearguard being the biggest factor to mark them out as tournament dark horses. Turkey had swaggered through Euro 2020 qualifying, finishing second in their group behind France whom they extracted four points off.

They conceded just three times, keeping eight clean sheets but have been so easily breached in the tournament itself. Turkey were more threatening in possession after the break, with the game devolving into end-to-end pinball.

Cengiz Under couldn’t convert at the near post, before Danny Ward got down low to deny a Hakan Calhanoglu rocket from distance. In-between Bale and Ramsey being a nuisance again, Burak Yilmaz volleyed over the bar.

Turkey’s resistance could have been broken when Mehmet Celik felled Wales’ main man on the edge of the penalty area. Bale stepped up to the spot, stuttered and then wildly blazed his spot-kick over the bar.

Wales weren’t punished for Bale’s penalty miss

He became the first player to miss the goal frame entirely since Raul’s penalty for Spain against France at the 2000 tournament.

In the aftermath of the stench of that shocker, Bale charged down Cakir’s kick, with his effort spinning just wide of the post.

Ayhan then headed into the arms of Ward from a corner in a chaotic few minutes that summed up a match with plenty of intensity and little control.

Turkey had more of the ball, more corners and more attempts on goal, but Wales still edged the scoreline. It remained that way courtesy of a top Ward save to deny substitute Merih Demiral from point-blank range.

Emotions ended up overspilling in the closing minutes, with Yilmaz and Chris Mepham needing to be restrained. The pair and Ben Davies were booked, before Bale capped off a breathless encounter by wizarding into the area and playing in Roberts to prod home.

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