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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 October 2005, 20:44 GMT 21:44 UK
Wales 2-0 Azerbaijan
Ryan Giggs celebrates his opening goal for Wales
Wales ended a disappointing World Cup qualifying campaign on a high as Ryan Giggs inspired them to a 2-0 win over Azerbaijan at the Millennium Stadium.

The skipper struck a superb free-kick with just three minutes gone, then grabbed a second soon after half-time.

Giggs showed a clean pair of heels to four Azeri defenders, before curling in a shot for his 11th international goal.

Emin Imamaliyev should have pulled the Azeri level before the break, but Paul Jones blocked his point-blank shot.

The victory in Cardiff, following Saturday's 3-2 win over Northern Ireland, ensured Wales' first back-to-back wins in double-header competitive matches since 1998.

Wales at least stayed ahead of Azerbaijan in the final Group Six table, finishing second-bottom thanks to eight points from 10 games.

But the way Wales ended the campaign bodes well for the next big task - qualification for the 2008 European Championships.

If Ryan had got a hat-trick it would have been something a bit special, but he was feeling a back-ache so we took him off
Wales boss John Toshack

Wales got off to the perfect start with just three minutes on the clock through skipper Giggs, after David Vaughan was fouled just outside the area.

The Manchester United man had earned victory over Northern Ireland on Saturday with a curling free-kick and produced another fine effort to hit the back of the net.

Azerbaijan should have equalised just after the quarter-hour mark as the quicksilver Zaur Tagizade beat Wales left-back Danny Collins to the byline.

Tagizade's cross was met strongly by Imamaliyev six yards from goal, only for Jones to spread-eagle himself and deflect the ball over the bar with his knee.

If Tagizade was causing problems down the Wales right, then Vaughan and Giggs were doubly dangerous down the Azeri left.

The pair combined in quick succession to create openings for first Carl Fletcher's left-foot shot and then John Hartson's header, but Dmitriy Kramarenko saved both.

Hartson would dearly have loved a goal to celebrate winning his 50th cap, but it was not to be for the Celtic striker.

David Vaughan impressed down Wales' left flank
David Vaughan impressed down Wales' left flank

The post then came to the Azeri goalkeeper Kramarenko's rescue as a Simon Davies cross found Giggs, whose shot back across goal rattled the woodwork.

But six minutes after half-time Wales found that elusive second goal and it was Giggs again who dealt the killer blow.

The ball broke kindly for the 31-year-old, who rounded four defenders before curling his shot inside the far left-hand post.

That was Giggs' 11th international goal, putting him level with Billy Meredith on the Wales scoring list in 11th place.

With a two-goal cushion Wales were able to give 21-year-old Gillingham midfielder Andrew Crofts his Wales debut, replacing Carl Fletcher.

Wales boss John Toshack also felt comfortable enough to let Giggs have an early bath.

David Cotterill replaced Giggs, while Danny Gabbidon took over the captain's armband to lead Wales until the final whistle.

Wales: Jones, Duffy, J Collins, Gabbidon, D Collins (Ricketts, 54), Davies, Fletcher (Crofts, 69), Robinson, Vaughan, Giggs (Cotterill, 73), Hartson.
Subs not used: Earnshaw, Williams, Edwards, Margetson.

Booked: Duffy, Fletcher.

Goals: Giggs 3, 51.

Azerbaijan: Kramarenko, Mahir Shukurov (Poladov, 69), Agayev, Sadygov, Amirbekov (Bakhshiev, 80), Kerimov, Guliyev, Muzika, Ismaylov, Imamaliyev, Tagizade.
Subs not used: Nabiyev, Akhmedov, Gurbanov, Hasanzade, Aliyev.

Referee: Martin Hansson (Swe).

Att: 32,000.

Report: Radio Five Live's Ian Brown

Interview: Wales boss John Toshack


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