Wales 1-0 Belarus: James continues impressive form with fine winner

Wales beat Belarus 1-0 in Cardiff through Daniel James' first-half strike to make it back-to-back victories for Ryan Giggs' side.

Daniel James maintained his impressive form for club and country by scoring the only goal of the game as Wales beat Belarus 1-0 in Monday's friendly at the Cardiff City Stadium.

The young winger has starred for Manchester United in the early weeks of the season and transferred his club form onto the international stage with an impressive winner 17 minutes into the match against a lacklustre Belarus side.

Gareth Bale started the game on the bench and Ryan Giggs saw his side produce an improved display on the back of Friday's disappointing late 2-1 victory over Azerbaijan in Euro 2020 qualifying.

Wales had chances to double their tally, with Bale guilty of missing a great opportunity, but in the end James' second senior goal for Wales proved enough to make it back-to-back victories.

Giggs' men managed only three shots on target against Azerbaijan but they tested Maksim Plotnikov inside the opening seven minutes here, the Belarus keeper parrying Harry Wilson's left-footed shot following a swift attack.

Plotnikov could not get a hand to James' fine curling effort into the bottom-right corner, however, with the winger collecting the ball from Jonny Williams and picking his spot after cutting in from the left.

The hosts went close to doubling their lead seven minutes into the second half when Wilson's whipped delivery went through a sea of bodies and came back off the post.

Bale was brought on for James and missed a glorious chance around 10 yards from goal once picked out by Wilson, blazing over the crossbar with plenty of the goal to aim for.

Belarus offered little attacking threat in the remainder of the game but Wales also struggled to create further clear-cut chances, meaning another narrow win in front of the 7,666 spectators in attendance.


What does it mean? Giggs' Wales building momentum

Supporters voted with their feet by staying away from the quarter-full Cardiff City Stadium, but Giggs will be pleased that his side are steadily building some momentum - even if the performances have been far from great.

After the disappointment of losing back-to-back matches in June, it is now successive wins for Wales and they will be feeling a lot more confident ahead of a couple of tough qualifiers in October that will make or break their Euro 2020 campaign.

James becoming Wales' key man

James was Wales' liveliest player for large parts against Azerbaijan and he again proved to be their biggest threat before being replaced early in the second half by Bale, the player he is earning plenty of comparisons with early in his career.

Wales still seeking a number nine

Giggs handed debuts to Joe Morrell and Kieffer Moore, the latter being asked to lead the line. That continues to be a troublesome position for Wales and Moore, despite the odd promising moment, did not offer a lot to suggest he will retain his place in the side - though he could offer an alternative option from the bench in future.

Key Opta Facts:

- Wales have won four consecutive home games for the first time since March 1993 under Terry Yorath (six wins).
- Belarus have lost all three of their away games against Wales, losing 3-2 in October 1998, 1-0 in October 2001 and 1-0 on this occasion.
- Ryan Giggs has won four of his last six matches as Wales manager (L2), after winning only three of his first nine (W3 D1 L5).
- Wales' Daniel James has found the back of the net in four of his last six appearances in all competitions for club and country (four goals), after failing to score in his previous seven games.

What's next?

Wales face two crucial Euro 2020 qualifiers next month as they travel to Slovakia on October 10 and welcome Croatia to Cardiff three days later, while Belarus have back-to-back home games against Estonia and Netherlands.