A hat trick for Jack Vale secured Cymru’s first win of their 2023 #U21EURO qualifying campaign as they swept aside Bulgaria 4-0 in Sofia.
2023 UEFA U21 EURO Qualifying Round
Bulgaria 0-4 Cymru
- Jack Vale 27', 50', 73'
- Billy Sass-Davies 42'
Paul Bodin started a new look side for the U21s, handing first starts to Rhys Hughes, Dan Williams, Sam Pearson and Jack Vale, whilst missing several players as a result of COVID issues and senior team callups.
Cymru were forced to react defensively to begin, with Bulgaria coming narrowly close to taking the lead had it not been for a last-ditch clearance from centre back Billy Sass-Davies inches from the goal line. Bodin’s side reacted positively to the wake-up call and an error by Bulgarian goalkeeper Svetoslav Vutsov handed an opportunity to Jack Vale, who made no mistake with the angled finish to open the scoring.
The lead was doubled just before the half time break after a beautifully delivered free kick from Rhys Hughes found the header of Sass-Davies, whose heroics continued the opposite side of the pitch as he scored his first U21s goal.
Starting the second half with a spring in their step, Bodin’s side extended their lead five minutes after the restart. A well worked passing move in the centre of the park gave the opportunity for winger Joe Adams to produce a superb floating ball over the Bulgarian defence to Jack Vale, who rounded the keeper to double his score tally for the match.
Vale and Cymru continued to force Bulgaria into their own half whilst maintaining possession, and the icing on the cake came with twenty minutes remaining. A well delivered cross by Sam Pearson found Vale free in the box and the Blackburn Rovers striker made no mistake with the header to score the first Cymru U21s hat trick since Ched Evans’ against France in 2007.
The win places Cymru in second place of Group E with four points after two games played. Bodin’s side will travel to Moldova and the Netherlands next month as they look to continue their momentum in the qualifying campaign.
The boys fully deserved the win. We had a little bit of luck at the start but from that point on I thought we dominated the game. Jack Vale was incredible with the perfect hat trick and his performance. I've had a great squad involved in this camp and it's been capped with a fantastic win and four wonderful goals.
Cymru XI: 1. Dan Barden, 2. Fin Stevens, 4. Billy Sass-Davies, 5. Morgan Boyes (c), 3. Eddy Jones, 6. Dan Williams, 8. Sam Bowen, 10. Rhys Hughes, 11. Joe Adams (13. Owen Beck 79'), 14. Sam Pearson (7. Niall Huggins 79'), 9. Jack Vale (20. Isaak Davies 83').
Subs not used: 12. Nathan Shepperd, 15. Elliot Thorpe, 16. Ryan Astley, 17. Ben Margetson, 18. Kieron Evans, 19. Keenan Patten, 20. Isaak Davies.
Yellow cards: Eddy Jones 54', Joe Adams 64', Sam Bowen 81'
Goals: Jack Vale 27', 50', 73'. Billy Sass-Davies 42'