Gareth Bale fires Wales into pole position for qualification

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Wales' man of the moment Gareth Bale has delivered yet again as Chris Coleman's side saw off a tough challenge from Cyprus to edge a 1-0 win and close in on their first major tournament since 1958.

The forward scored with a powerful header to give his side an 82nd-minute winning goal and three more points leaving them with 17 points at the summit of the Group H in the European Championship qualifying stage.

Wales started off showing early signs of nerves with Cyprus forcing the away side back for the first five minutes of the match.


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Wales soon settled and established themselves as Aaron Ramsey's curling effort sailed just over Antonis Georgallides's bar.

Soon after, Bale found himself stepping up for a 25-yard free-kick and thumped a dipping effort into Georgallides, who misread the movement of the ball but just about parried the ball to the feet of Neil Taylor, whose follow up was saved again by the goalkeeper.

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As the sides continued to battle away Ashley Williams saw his defensive skills called upon as he blocked a square ball across the box, denying a quick counter goal from the home side.

The controversial moment of the first half came as Bale whipped in a perfect ball from the right side onto the head of Dave Edward, who found the back of the net only for the officials to deem it disallowed.

The referee called the decision for a deemed push by forward Hal Robson-Kanu in the build up to the chance.

Before the half-time whistle was blown Andreas Makris had the last notable effort of the half as his shot blazed over the Wales bar.

Cyprus came out the stronger in the second half, with Giorgos Economides forcing Wayne Hennessey into an early blocking save.

However, with each minute passing the home side started to allow Wales more time on the ball. A clever interchange on the left side created space that eventually allowed the ball to be passed into Ramsey, who fired a snap-shot at the Cyprus goal forcing Georgallides into a save.

It was fast becoming a realisation that perhaps Wales would never break the deadlock, but come the 82nd minute, they found their goal.

Jazz Richards floated a cross from the right towards the back post, which Bale powerfully met in front of his marker and hammered in a header giving Wales the goal and three points they oh-so needed, stepping closer to qualifying for their first European Championships since 1958.

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