Woodburn shines for Wales again
Liverpool teenager comes on as a sub and provides assist for vital breakthrough
There is no doubt about it - Wales have found a new star.
Having delivered when his country needed some form of inspiration against Austria last Saturday, Ben Woodburn did it again in Moldova yesterday morning (Singapore time).
A wasteful Wales scored two late goals to beat Moldova 2-0 in their World Cup Group D qualifier as a diving header by Hal Robson-Kanu and a deflected Aaron Ramsey strike spared their blushes against the bottom side.
Though Moldova were stubborn in defence, Wales did not lack chances.
They managed to waste every opportunity they had in the opening 45 minutes, however, with Gareth Bale, Ramsey and Robson-Kanu all spurning chances to break the deadlock.
The visitors stepped up their assault in the second half, with Wales manager Chris Coleman sending on 17-year-old Woodburn, who scored the only goal against Austria on his international debut just 261 seconds after coming on as a substitute, on the hour mark.
Just as it looked like Wales would be held to the most excruciating of draws by world No. 159 Moldova, the young Liverpool forward took matters into his own hands with 10 minutes left.
He picked up the ball on the left flank, ran hard to defeat his opposing defender, and cut a cross with his weaker foot that Robson-Kanu stooped to head home.
It was a very good finish, but the goal owed most to Woodburn.
Four minutes later, he nearly made victory certain, dancing into space in the box and hitting a solid shot that goalkeeper Ilie Cebanu needed to be strong to save.
Moldova twice went close late on, but a strike from Ramsey that cannoned off a defender's foot and arced into the net in injury time secured all three points for the visitors.
Coleman said: "It was a good win. It wasn't our best performance, we had to be patient.
"We thought there could be a late goal in it and again, young Ben, a good cross, Hal Robson-Kanu puts it in the back of the net - fantastic.
"Then we got nervous, they attacked and could have got one back, but then 'Rambo' (Ramsey) goes down the other end and finishes it off."
On Woodburn, Coleman added: 'This was harder for Ben, a long way from home in a game of this magnitude.
"He needs another huge pat on the back for someone so young. But, if you're good, you're good."
With group rivals the Republic of Ireland slumping to a 1-0 defeat at home by Serbia, the win lifted Wales into second place ahead of the Irish, with the two sides set to meet in their final qualifying game in Cardiff next month.
Serbia top the group on 18 points with Wales, who travel to Georgia next, four points behind and the Irish, who meet Moldova in Dublin before travelling to Cardiff, in third on 13. - WIRE SERVICES
- Republic of Ireland 0 Serbia 1
- Austria 1 Georgia 1
- Kosovo 0 Finland 1
- Iceland 2 Ukraine 0
- Turkey 1 Croatia 0