by Cole Martin
RYAN Giggs has earned the respect of Welsh fans after executing the perfect game plan in a 2-0 away win to Azerbaijan, taking his side to the cusp of Euro 2020 qualification.
The Manchester United legend made a controversial call to start Lincoln City’s Joe Morrell ahead of the instrumental Aaron Ramsey, who was available for the first time this year.
Giggs also decided to stick with Wigan Athletic’s Kieffer Moore, despite the target-man only registering one goal domestically this season.
Wales were tasked with avoiding suspensions for Gareth Bale and Daniel James, who were one yellow card away from missing the crunch game against Hungary on Tuesday.
The manager’s decision looked to have paid off just 10 minutes in, when Moore headed home his second goal in just his fourth appearance for Wales, getting his country off to the perfect start.
Harry Wilson doubled Wales’ lead in the 34th minute and Giggs’ side took full control of the match, allowing him to manage the game perfectly.
Glad to see @Cymru boss Ryan Giggs getting credit for key decisions he got right last night. Hungary will be another huge test, but surely most fans would have settled for needing home win to qualify in final game when #Euro 2020 Group E was drawn?
— Rob Phillips (@robphillipshere) November 17, 2019
Questions of fitness issues for Bale and Ramsey were dealt with effectively, with the latter replacing the Real Madrid star an hour in, allowing both players to gain some valuable match fitness without being run into the ground.
Morrell repaid his manager’s faith in him by putting in an eye-catching performance, with 96% pass completion, and 100% long ball accuracy, the 22-year-old staked a claim to potentially start in Tuesday evening’s showdown.
The perfect away performance.
Played well, looked organised, scored goals and kept a clean sheet.
Fair play to Giggs, he got it spot on.
— The Canton Corner (@TheCantonCorner) November 16, 2019
Bale and James both managed to avoid suspension, and the United youngster was replaced by Rabbi Matondo, allowing Giggs to give game time to additional promising players that may be in his future plans.
The victory was also Wales’ first away win for over a year, a very timely and professional performance which was followed with heaps of optimism from fans.
Giggs will be hoping for his side to seal qualification on Tuesday and cement his name in history as one of the few managers in recent years to achieve the feat.
A great night for @Cymru boss Ryan Giggs.
Speaking to @SkySports post-match, the boss pointed to be being able to bring Gareth Bale off fairly early and avoiding bookings to some of his best players as key, ahead of the Hungary clash on Tuesday. pic.twitter.com/mn2mj5D250
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) November 16, 2019