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  Sunday, 8 September, 2002, 15:39 GMT 16:39 UK
Bring on the Italians

It was a fantastic result to beat Finland 2-0 away in Helsinki and sets Wales up nicely for their bid to reach the European Championship finals in Portugal.

The performance was professional: the players worked their socks off, they were disciplined with lots of spirit, lots of character.

They needed a little bit of luck - which you do if you go away from home in qualifying games and hope to win.

Paul Jones in goal had to make a couple of saves, they got a lucky break for the first goal, but then the quality in the Wales team got them the second goal.

The first goal was straight off the training ground and Mark Hughes has to take credit for it.

It was a long kick from Jones, Gary Speed had pushed forward deliberately and Ryan Giggs was already heading for the middle of the penalty area.

It broke fortunately for Wales, but the set-up was a training ground routine and John Hartson had the joyful task of putting Wales one-up.

From that moment on I thought that Wales were always going to go on and win the game.

Wales looked organised, kept their shape well and made Finland look a bad side.

But the Italians, who Wales face next in Cardiff next month, should have that extra bit of quality to cause problems.

However, after getting three points in Finland, Wales are no longer playing catch-up as they have been in the past.

I would have been delighted with Wales having seven points after they've played four games in Group Nine.

But they're now looking at a position where they can set their stall out for the Italian game not to get beaten.

If Wales get a point against Italy then they're looking at 10 points after four games played, because I believe that they should beat Azerbaijan home and away.

Italy won't just be able to hammer away at Wales either, as in Giggs and Simon Davies they have two quality wide players who can get forward in support of Hartson.

Throw the likes of Newcastle's Craig Bellamy and Robert Earnshaw of Cardiff into the equation and Wales have the skill and pace to make any side respect them.


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