Football

Coleman: Woodburn can become a 'great' player

Wales may have unearthed another exciting prospect after teenager Ben Woodburn came off the bench to score his country's winner in a World Cup Group D qualifier against Austria in Cardiff yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The Liverpool youngster's incredible introduction to international football produced rave reviews yesterday, with manager Chris Coleman leading the praise.

"I know his strike was fantastic, but his all-round composure was great, too," Coleman said.

"He has all the attributes to go on to be a great player."

The 17-year-old had been on the pitch only four minutes when he fired home from distance to keep Welsh hopes of qualifying for next year's Finals in Russia alive.

With three games left, Wales are third in Group D, four points behind leaders Serbia and two behind the Republic of Ireland, who were held to a 1-1 draw in Georgia.

Wales have provided some of the greats of British football down the years, with Mark Hughes, Ryan Giggs and Gareth Bale all doing sterling service for their country.

All-time top scorer Ian Rush was also encouraged to see Woodburn, who has made only a handful of appearances for Liverpool's first team, make an instant impact.

"I've been working with Ben since he was 14 years old and he has an amazing attitude, he keeps his feet on the ground," Rush told the BBC.

"Playing with the likes of (Arsenal midfielder) Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale, I think he is now realising what the world is all about.

"He probably won't start on Tuesday (against Moldova) but, if he comes on, he will do a job."

Woodburn replaced Tom Lawrence on 69 minutes and Coleman's gamble reaped immediate rewards as the youngster controlled a headed clearance before rifling beyond goalkeeper Heinz Lindner from 25 metres to spark jubilant celebrations.

"The ball just came out of the air and I just tried to shoot it as quickly as I could," Woodburn told Sky Sports, after becoming Wales' second-youngest goalscorer in history at 17 years and 322 days, behind only Bale.

"It's a great feeling, I couldn't ask for much more from the fans. I won't sleep tonight." - WIRE SERVICES


OTHER RESULTS

GROUP D

  • Georgia 1 Republic of Ireland 1
  • Serbia 3 Moldova 0

GROUP G

  • Albania 2 Liechtenstein 0
  • Israel 0 Macedonia 1
  • Spain 3 Italy 0

GROUP I

  • Finland 1 Iceland 0
  • Ukraine 2 Turkey 0
  • Croatia 1 Kosovo 0
World CupWalesliverpool