Giggs enjoys 'special night' for Wales

Wales' players Aaron Ramsey, Gareth Bale and Ethan Ampadu celebrating after defeating Hungary 2-0 on Tuesday night in Cardiff to seal their berth for the Euro 2020 Finals. PHOTO: REUTERS
Wales' players Aaron Ramsey, Gareth Bale and Ethan Ampadu celebrating after defeating Hungary 2-0 on Tuesday night in Cardiff to seal their berth for the Euro 2020 Finals. PHOTO: REUTERS

CARDIFF • Ryan Giggs savoured "one of the greatest nights" of his career after leading Wales to Euro 2020, insisting his team can continue to build on their six-game unbeaten streak.

Aaron Ramsey struck twice on his return to the starting line-up after more than a year to seal passage to their third major football tournament after the 1958 World Cup and Euro 2016.

The Juventus midfielder scored in each half in the 2-0 Group E win over Hungary on Tuesday and Giggs is adamant there is further room for the Dragons, who reached the semi-finals at the last edition under Chris Coleman, to grow.

"It is a special, special night," he said after his side finished runners-up, three points behind table-toppers Croatia (17). "The lads have showed great determination and quality and a never-give-up attitude. They deserve all the plaudits.

"There was no room for error, and the quality and concentration they have shown, they deserve it.

"I achieved a lot as a player, but it's different as a manager, the pressure you are under and you are helpless as a manager.

"I was never nervous as a player, but as a manager, you are. Come game day, it is out of your hands.

"I am a relatively young coach, and I could not have done it without my staff. Together, we did it.

"This is just the beginning. We have seen a lot of young players over the last 18 months, and they can get better."

The 45-year-old was effusive in his praise of Ramsey, who scored his first Wales goals since September last year - a first-half header from a Gareth Bale cross followed by a close-range finish two minutes after the interval.

This was the first time Wales had been able to start the star duo together in their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign owing to injuries, leading Giggs to declare that the team "had missed him".

"We have some very good players, but they don't grow on trees - players who make the difference," the former Manchester United midfielder added. "Aaron was the difference."

Bale also ribbed Ramsey, jokingly saying "it's about time he contributed", and the latter admitted his brace had made his prolonged spell on the sidelines "all worthwhile".

The former Arsenal player said: "We had the best time of our lives in France (in 2016) so we wanted to make sure we really got it this time having missed out on the World Cup.

"It was a big effort and I missed a lot of this campaign, but to chip in with a couple of goals is amazing. We inspired a nation last time out so we wanted to do it again."

Elsewhere, Belgium made it a perfect 10 wins from 10 Group I matches with a 6-1 thrashing of Cyprus that saw Christian Benteke nab a double.

After hitting a hat-trick to sink Northern Ireland 6-1, Serge Gnabry claimed that Germany were "playing very good football" and "we're going to the Finals confident and with a good run behind us".

Die Mannschaft finished top of Group C, two points ahead of the Dutch (19), who rounded off their campaign with a 5-0 mauling of Estonia. Georginio Wijnaldum netted his first treble for the Oranje.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2019, with the headline 'Giggs enjoys 'special night' for Wales'. Print Edition | Subscribe