Ramsey brace secures Euro 2020 place for Wales
Euro 2020 Qualification Group E, Cardiff City Stadium - Wales 2 (Ramsey 15', 47') Hungary 0
Aaron Ramsey bagged a brilliant brace as Wales claimed their place in the European Championship finals next summer with an impressive 2-0 win over Hungary on a special night at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Needing a win to qualify for back-to-back Euros, Ryan Giggs' men were confident from the start and inspired by Ramsey and Gareth Bale - fit to start together for the first time in a year - the hosts produced a fine performance and result to match.
Their key men Bale and Ramsey combined to give Wales a first-half lead, the former floating a beautiful cross to the latter, who had peeled off his marker to head past the helpless Peter Gulacsi.
Aaron Ramsey of Wales scores his teams first goal during the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier between Wales and Hungary so at Cardiff City Stadium on November 19, 2019 in Cardiff, WalesGetty Images
Throw in Daniel James and Wales are a genuinely talented attacking force, the Manchester United flanker was a constant menace on the left. His pace started a textbook counter-attack that ought to have concluded with a second goal but just eight yards out Kieffer Moore somehow headed wide from another fantastic cross by Bale.
Wales needed a huge performance from all their players and the hosts had their goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey to thank minutes later, the 32-year-old showing terrific agility to deny Dominik Szoboszlai before gathering himself to save Roland Sallai's point-blank effort.
The hosts took control of proceedings immediately after the restart when Ramsey was left unmarked at the far post from a free-kick and he punished the visitors' sloppy defending with a cool finish to give his country some breathing space.
Giggs' side never looked like letting Hungary back into the contest. In fact, they were relentless in search of a killer third and Ramsey was denied his hat-trick by Gulacsi, but no one could deny Wales their well-deserved celebrations at the final whistle. The result means Wales leapfrog Marco Rossi's side into second, behind leaders Croatia.
TALKING POINT - Giggs delivers the goods as Wales return to the big time
With Wales failing to qualify for a major final in 58 years until their drought was ended at Euro 16, many great players never had the opportunity of representing their country on the world stage - most notably Ryan Giggs.
His appointment as Wales boss was met with a mixed reaction from fans, but having recovered from a slow start in the group, the Manchester United legend has nailed his place down in folklore, becoming only the third manager after Jimmy Murphy and Chris Coleman to lead the Welsh to a major tournament.
Aaron Ramsey of Wales celebrates after scoring their 1st goal during the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier between Wales and Hungary at Cardiff City Stadium on November 19, 2019 in Cardiff, United Kingdom.Getty Images
In June, Giggs only had three points from three matches. Wales started the game in third, but an unbeaten run stretching back to their 1-0 defeat to Hungary five months ago provided them with a golden opportunity to stake their place in next summer's Euros and, after so many near misses in the past, it never looked likely they would let this chance slip through their grasp.
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MAN OF THE MATCH - Aaron Ramsey (Wales)
How his country have missed him. In his hard-felt absence, Wales were on the receiving end of a number of disappointing defeats. His inclusion on the team sheet gave everyone a lift before a ball was even kicked and he assumed control from the first whistle. The importance of Bale is obvious, but the fitness of Ramsey is every bit as crucial. Key players thrive on pressure and Wales' big stars produced on the biggest of occasions.
Ramsey - Wales-Hungary - Euro 2020 qualifier - Getty ImagesGetty Images
15' - GOAL! Wales 1-0 Hungary: WE HAVE LIFT OFF! The two magic men, Bale and Ramsey combine, the former floating a beautiful cross to the latter, who peels off his marker to head past a helpless Gulacsi.
29' - So close! Hungary want a penalty, it's not given and Wales, like Wales do, break with pace. It starts with James, Ramsey moves it to Bale who stands up another fantastic cross but Moore, from point-blank range, heads it wide.
34' - Double save! How haven't Hungary scored?! The ball is nodded down to Szoboszlai who has all of the goal to aim for, he pokes it low and Hennessey makes a fantastic save. And to put the icing on the cake, he gathers himself quickly to smother Sallai's rebound.
47' - GOAL! Wales 2-0 Hungary: Ramsey, again! Wales can start to dream now! Moore wins a free-kick on the left. Davies whips in the free-kick and the Juventus midfielder is in the right place at the right time to fire home from close range after Hungary fail to clear the danger.
75'- Close! James races in behind the Hungary defence with a frightening turn of pace. His cross is deflected into the path of Ramsey, whose low shot is clawed away by Gulacsi to deny the Juventus midfielder his hat-trick.
- Wales' 2-0 win over Hungary secured their qualification to EURO 2020, only the third major tournament (World Cup and European Championship) they have qualified for, after the 1958 World Cup and EURO 2016.
- Aaron Ramsey netted what is his first brace for Wales in his 60th appearance for his national side; he has scored as many goals tonight as he had in his previous 12 international matches.