Football

Earnshaw seals Welsh win

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Robert Earnshaw's first goal for Wales in 17 months ended a run of three successive defeats for his country in a 1-0 friendly win over Estonia at Llanelli.

Earnshaw, by far the most experienced player in a very youthful Wales team, struck home a first-half penalty for his 14th goal for Wales.

The Wales youngsters showed plenty of promise and endeavour, but could not claim further goals to truly underline their superiority.

Cardiff's Joe Ledley captained Wales for the first time. The 22-year-old has skippered Cardiff this season and is now the ninth captain in boss Toshack's five years in command. Only Mike England was younger as a Wales captain, and his appointment reflected the youthful nature of this Welsh side.

Wales fielded their youngest side ever, with an average age just 21. Seven still qualify for the under-21s and there were seven who were 20 or under, with Earnshaw the oldest at 28 and earning his 44th cap.

Much of this has been forced on Toshack through injuries and withdrawals, but it did represent a brave new beginning aimed now at Euro 2012, rather than the current failed World Cup campaign. And there was brightness, vibrancy and pace about the side, with Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey pulling the strings from midfield.

One run from deep ended with a pass to Chris Gunter, with the Spurs full-back just failing to take advantage. Gareth Bale surged down the left past three defenders before squaring the ball into the six-yard box, just evading Sam Vokes as the Wolves striker raced into the area.

Estonia had been under considerable pressure, but they broke out after 21 minutes and almost went ahead when Vitali Gussev just failed to connect with a cross from Dmitri Kruglov.

But Wales responded with shots from Earnshaw and Bale that were both charged down before they took the lead after 25 minutes. It came from a rather harsh penalty award after a Ledley drive had crashed into Alo Barengrub from close range.

Icelandic referee Magnus Thorisson decided it was handball, and the Estonian defender was booked for protesting. Earnshaw stepped up to calmly guide home the spot kick, his first Wales goal since scoring in San Marino in October 2007 and his 14th in all.

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Topics:
Tottenham Hotspur
Arsenal
Aaron Ramsey
Football
Championship
Cardiff City
Robert Earnshaw
Sam Vokes
Joe Ledley
Chris Gunter
Gareth Bale
Mike England
Wolverhampton Wanderers

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