Andorra 1-2 WalesJake Cooper | 12 Oct 2016
In an unconvincing performance against Andorra, Gareth Bale scored a dramatic late goal to secure a win for Wales on Tuesday.
Wales may have beaten Andorra but they have their work cut out to reach the main stage of Euro 2016 as they still face the two toughest competitors in Group B, Belgium and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Should they come through those games, the Welsh will reach a major tournament for first time since 1958.
Wales looked from the start to be somewhat rattled by the Andorran side, particularly after conceding a penalty in just a few minutes, from which Captain Ildefons Lima scored the hosts’ first competitive goal in over four years.
Bale equalised 16 minutes later but no further goals were scored until the Real Madrid winger curled a free kick into the corner with just nine minutes to spare.
The main controversy of the game, however, centred on the surface of the pitch. Andorra’s National Stadium uses a previously banned 3rd Generation surface instead of actual turf, which threw the Welsh side off their stride.
The synthetic turf is made of plastic which rests on a bed of sand and is covered in rubber filings to add grip. Several of the players found it incredibly difficult to control the ball, which appeared to move more quickly across the 3G surface.
Aaron Ramsey slipped over at one stage and the quality of the pitch used for the game has since triggered calls for synthetic surfaces to be disallowed by UEFA. The Arsenal midfielder was taken off having rolled his ankle, although he is confident that he will not miss any domestic action this weekend when the Gunners host City at Emirates Stadium.
“I’ll be alright,” said Ramsey. “The pitch was very hard. There’s no give in it so I rolled my ankle a bit. I don’t know how you could play football on that pitch to be honest. Hopefully it will be nothing and I’ll be available for Saturday. These are the games you want to play in and I’m looking forward to it.
“Normally we play quick and play the ball on the floor, playing around teams, but we couldn’t do that. [The ground] was bobbly so it was very difficult.”
Wales’ next Euro 2016 qualifier will be on 10 October against Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Emirates.