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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 February, 2004, 21:47 GMT
Wales 4-0 Scotland
Hat-trick hero Rob Earnshaw fires past Rab Douglas
Robert Earnshaw claimed a memorable hat-trick as Wales crushed Scotland at the Millennium Stadium.

The Cardiff striker broke away for a first-minute opener and scrambled a second just after the half-hour mark from a pin-point Ryan Giggs cross.

A famous third arrived on 58 minutes, putting him alongside the likes of Wales hat-trick heroes Ian Rush and John Toshack.

Substitute Gareth Taylor then added a fourth with his first goal for Wales.

Wales started in sensational fashion with an Earnshaw goal after just 43 seconds.

The Cardiff striker's run between the Scotland centre-backs was spotted by Wales skipper Gary Speed, who released an inch-perfect ball over the top.

Taking just one touch to control the ball, Earnshaw comfortably beat Rab Douglas despite the Celtic keeper getting a faint touch with his left hand.

But the visitors started to threaten in attack after their early setback and Leicester striker Paul Dickov went close with a snap shot.

Then Darren Fletcher should have done better when he caught Danny Gabbidon in possession, only to shoot straight at Mark Crossley with the goal gaping.

Just after the half-hour mark Wales lost Simon Davies, who was limping after being clattered earlier while shooting on goal.

That saw Cardiff's Paul Parry come on for his first cap and make an immediate impact, finding Giggs lurking on the left to fire in a killer cross for Earnshaw's second goal.

The little poacher stole between Stephen Caldwell and Paul Ritchie once again, getting the softest of touches to send the ball into the back of the net.

Both sides had further chances on the counter before half time, but Giggs had the best and should have done better with a free header after good work from John Oster.

That was the Manchester United winger's last contribution to the match as he was replaced after the break by Taylor, while his Nottingham Forest team-mate Darren Ward took over in goal.

Scotland manager Berti Vogts made two changes of his own, sending on Reading's Graeme Murty for Gary Naysmith and Wigan's Gary Teale in place of Stephen Pearson for their senior debuts.

Wales made light of Simon Davies' early injury
Wales made light of Simon Davies' early injury

Ward's goalkeeping skills were soon tested first by Dickov and then James McFadden, but he saved smartly from both.

But eight minutes after the restart Earnshaw carved his name among the great Wales strikers by netting his third, picking up Robbie Savage's pass before shimmying inside and blasting through Douglas.

It was the first hat-trick by a Wales player since Rush struck three against the Faroe Islands in 1992, and the first against Scotland since Toshack in 1979.

That brings the 22-year-old Earnshaw's international goal tally to six in 10 appearances.

Dickov was unlucky not to pull a goal back for the Scots when his shot slid off the top of the crossbar, but he soon had more support up front as Blackburn youngster Paul Gallagher joined the fray.

There was also a first Wales cap for Bournemouth skipper Carl Fletcher, who returned to the Millennium Stadium for the first time since scoring two goals in the Cherries' 5-2 destruction of Lincoln in last season's Division Three play-off final.

Wales moved out of sight with just over 10 minutes remaining when Taylor claimed his elusive first Wales goal on his 13th cap, shooting under the despairing Douglas.


Wales: Crossley (Ward 46), Edwards, Page, Melville (Symons 87), Gabbidon, Davies (Parry 33), Speed (Robinson 72), Savage (Fletcher 72), Oster, Earnshaw, Giggs (Taylor 46).
Subs Not Used: Weston, Roberts.

Scotland: Douglas, McNamara, Naysmith (Murty 46), Dailly, Stephen Caldwell, Ritchie, Fletcher (Webster 86), Cameron (Gallagher 67), Kenny Miller, Dickov, Pearson (McFadden 46).
Subs Not Used: Gallacher, Gary Caldwell, Teale.

Attendance: 47,124.

Referee: Michael Ross (Northern Ireland).




WATCH AND LISTEN
Wales boss Mark Hughes
"Scotland couldn't cope with Earnshaw - he was electric"


Wales' Robert Earnshaw
"It was a great day for me and a great day for the team"




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