Paul Bodin started his tenure as Cymru U21 manager with a superb performance and an impressive 1-0 win against Belgium in the opening fixture of Wales’ UEFA U21 Euro 2021 Qualifying campaign at the Racecourse.
Cymru 1-0 Belgium
- Brennan Johnson 3'
Debutant Brennan Johnson gave his manager a dream start to the fixture against the European heavyweights with a powerful close-range finish giving Wales a 1-0 lead after only three minutes, signalling Cymru’s attacking intent from the start.
The hosts could have had a second goal minutes later as a far-post header from Regan Poole was glanced just wide, catching the goalkeeper flat-footed.
Belgium had chances of their own early on in what was an end-to-end first half, including an impressive close-range save from George Ratcliffe which denied Lois Openda an equalizer after he’d ghosted clear of an otherwise solid Cymru defence.
More opportunities came for Cymru in the first half as Mark Harris threatened as a lone striker. On the half hour mark Harris drove towards the Belgian defence, cutting back inside onto his left foot to beat his man, but his shot fell straight into the goalkeeper’s hands.
Both teams continued their attacking intent in the second half and kept the Racecourse crowd entertained. A fantastic breakaway after an hour involving Johnson, Harris and winger Dan Mooney saw the former break down the right to be fed by Harris. A superb ball by the Wrexham loanee at his home turf gave Mooney a great chance in front of goal but his scuffed shot veered just wide.
With the game hanging on a knife edge, Cymru relied on some George Ratcliffe heroics to secure the three points. With minutes remaining, Ratcfliffe made a fabulous instinctive save at the near post, denying Belgium what seemed like a certain equaliser. Bodin’s Cymru then held on to open their qualifying campaign with an impressive win against one of the group favourites.
Cymru continue their qualifying campaign on Tuesday night at the Racecourse against Germany. Kick off is at 7pm and tickets can be purchased here.
Cymru U21: 1. George Ratcliffe, 2. Cameron Coxe, 3. Rhys Norrington-Davies, 4. Jack Evans (13. Ryan Stirk 86'), 5. Regan Poole (c), 6. Ben Cabango, 7. Liam Cullen, 8. Robbie Burton, 9. Mark Harris, 10. Brennan Johnson, 11. Dan Mooney (19. Oli Cooper 76')
Subs not used: 12. Adam Przybek, 14. Keiran Evans, 15. Brandon Cooper, 16. Niall Huggins, 17. Harry Clifton, 18. Cole DaSilva
Yellow cards: R Norrington-Davies, R Burton, L Cullen, J Evans, M Harris