Goals: Lawrence (6′), Bale (18′), Ramsey (37′), Roberts (55′), S Williams (66′)
Ryan Giggs got off to a dream start in his first competitive fixture as Wales boss on Thursday evening.
Scintillating Wales blew away their under-par home nations rivals Republic of Ireland to get their Nations League campaign off to a flyer.
Chris Mepham, Ethan Ampadu, Connor Roberts and David Brooks all made their competitive Wales debuts on the pitch, while Giggs made his on the touch-line.
But each and every one looked at home as Wales ran riot against an injury-hit Ireland side to silence the demons from that defeat against Martin O’Neill’s side in the World Cup qualifiers.
Tom Lawrence, Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Connor Roberts were all on the score-sheet for Wales, and they now head into second Nations League fixture against Denmark on Sunday on cloud nine.
Wales were quick out of the blocks for this one and Gareth Bale made it known within the opening seconds that he was up for this one by blocking Ireland’s second pass of the game.
A nothing incident, but a statement of intent at the very least.
And so it proved to be with Wales taking the lead on the sixth minute of the match through Derby County winger Tom Lawrence.
A perfectly timed through ball from Joe Allen found Lawrence, who spun away from his defender before lashing a shot inside the near post.
Wales continued to cause problems with a front three suiting Ireland’s back five and lack of out-and-out full-backs.
In the 17th minute, after a probing on a number of occasions with long balls out wide, Wales got their second of the evening.
Another diagonal ball found Bale, who had an option inside, but he decided to go it alone, cutting inside before bending as tremendous shot into the far top corner. Another goal to remember for the Real Madrid star.
Ireland were struggling to settle and it already seemed as though they had let the game slip as they continued to struggle in getting to grips with their formation.
Tom Lawrence was next to try his luck for Wales, forcing Darren Randolph into a save from range after a great run from the lively David Brooks get the move up and running.
Connor Roberts then came close, heading a close-range effort over the bar following a mesmerising move from the home side.
Ireland did manage to respond, but it took them until the 35th minute to muster up their first real chance of the evening.
Some great work from Seamus Coleman saw him reach the byline before cutting back to debutant Callum Robinson, who swept his effort over the bar.
A chance missed and it proved crucial. Wales were far more clinical and they made it felt when Ethan Ampadu drove into a good position before setting up Aaron Ramsey.
The Arsenal midfielder made no mistake at the far post, driving a low shot past Darren Randolph, who was again beaten at his near post.
A miserable first-half for the visitors but no such thing for Wales and Ryan Giggs who were in wonderland, taking a three-goal lead into the break.
Ireland looked a lot better in the early stages of the second half, creating a great chance within minutes, but Callum Robinson could only head over Jonathan Walters’ pin-point cross.
However, it was to be more of the same after that. More Wales brilliance.
Gareth Bale drove a powerful pin-point pass across the edge of the box on the 55th minute and Connor Roberts brought it down before smashing one into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
Ireland were stunned after starting much better in the second half, but they did manage to pull a goal back, albeit with a helping hand.
A big mistake from Aaron Ramsey in front of his own box allowed substitute Shaun Williams to go through on goal and he finished nicely with a neat chip over Wayne Hennessey.
Following a lull with both teams momentarily accepting their fate given the game was all wrapped up rather early one, Wales continued their domination.
Substitute Tyler Roberts came close to scoring on his debut after a neat one-two allowed him a shot on goal, but Darren Randolph was on hand to push the ball wide.
Wales continued to try their luck, pushing forward with freedom and confidence, but there would be no fifth.
A fine night for Ryan Giggs and his Welsh team who have made a statement in their opening Nations League fixture with this wonderful performance.
Man of the Match – Ethan Ampadu
Calm, composed and cultured. To think Ethan Ampadu is just 17 years of age is frightening. To think what this lad could be capable of as he further matures is mouth-watering.
The Chelsea youngster’s range of passing allowed him to control the game alongside Joe Allen right up until the 67th minute when he was taken off, presumably to rest of Sunday.
Ampadu stood out in this fantastic Wales display, but many of his team-mates weren’t far behind him.
Connor Roberts, David Brooks and Chris Mepham all impressed on their competitive debuts and senior players like Joe Allen, Gareth Bale and Tom Lawrence all lit up the Cardiff City Stadium on a night to remember.
Ryan Giggs couldn’t have hoped for a better competitive debut. If this is a sign of what is to come, then Wales fans have a lot to be excited about.
This was against an injury-plagued Ireland side, so you can’t get too carried away, but on the other hand, the way in which Wales blew away their visitors with such intensity and class, it’s difficult not to.
From minute one, Wales went at this game with a very high intensity and they seemed to be confident in how they were going to hurt Ireland, a stark difference from the last time these two sides met.
Wales continued to dominate possession as we saw under Chris Coleman, but they also had a new-found confidence going forward, appearing sharp and dangerous in the final third and always looking to play on the front.
This was entertaining, scintillating and at times, mesmerising. A fine start for Ryan Giggs.