MX23RW : Tuesday, March 26 01:05:38
Oct 11, 2018 at 7.45pm UK at ​Millennium Stadium
Attendance: 50,232
Vokes (89')
FT(HT: 0-3)
Alcacer (8', 29'), Ramos (19'), Bartra (74')

Live Commentary: Wales 1-4 Spain - as it happened

Relive Spain's dominant 4-1 win over Wales as La Roja continue their perfect start to life under Luis Enrique in Cardiff.
Live Commentary: Wales 1-4 Spain - as it happened
© Reuters

Spain maintained their 100% start to life under manager Luis Enrique with a comfortable 4-1 win over Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff this evening.

The visitors had the result effectively wrapped up before the half-hour mark courtesy of goals from Paco Alcacer either side of a Sergio Ramos header.

Marc Bartra added a deserved fourth goal in the second half, before Sam Vokes pulled a consolation back for the home side in the 89th minute.

Find out how all of the action unfolded courtesy of our minute-by-minute updates below.

6.45pmGood evening! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for tonight's international friendly between Wales and Spain at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff!

This will be a huge test for Ryan Giggs's side tonight as they take on a Spain team eager to bury their woeful World Cup memories, and it will be interesting to see if they can put up much of a fight without Gareth Bale here.

Let's start with a look at who will be replacing Bale in the team...

6.47pmSPAIN STARTING XI: De Gea; Azpilicueta, Ramos, Albiol, Gaya; Saul, Rodri, Ceballos; Suso, Morata, Alcacer

6.49pmWales are being a little tardy with their team news tonight, so we will bring you that as soon as it is released, but for now let's focus on the visitors.

Spain were hit by a few notable retirements in the wake of their World Cup disappointment - namely Iniesta, Pique and David Silva - but there are still plenty of recognisable names in the squad for this evening's trip to Cardiff.

6.51pmThere are interestingly no representatives from Barcelona as Sergio Busquets misses out a place in the team, with Rodri replacing the midfielder to win just his third international cap.

Indeed, despite most of the names being familiar in that team, there are a few other players who are still inexperienced at this level, with Jose Gaya, Dani Ceballos and Suso all making just their second appearances for Spain.

6.53pmChelsea striker Alvaro Morata leads the line in the absence of the injured Diego Costa this evening, and he will be hoping to have well and truly turned a corner now having scored twice in his last two games.

Morata is joined in the front three by Paco Alcacer - who has six goals in 13 international appearances - and former Liverpool forward Suso.

6.55pmIt is actually Sergio Ramos who is the top scorer in this current squad with 14 goals, though, and tonight the Real Madrid man will wins his 159th cap - moving just eight behind record-holder Iker Casillas.

Centre-back partner Raul Albiol is the only only player in the team who has won more than 50 caps for Spain, although there is still plenty of top-level experience in the shape of David de Gea, Cesar Azpilicueta and Saul Niguez.

6.57pmWALES STARTING XI: Hennessey; Roberts, Gunter, A Williams, John, Davies; Ampadu, Allen, Ramsey; Wilson; Vokes

6.57pmWALES SUBS: Ward, A Davies, Chester, Richards, Rodon, King, Brooks, Smith, Woodburn, Lawrence, Thomas, T Roberts

6.59pmWales have finally graced us with their team news, so what can we make of their starting lineup this evening?

Well, the headline news around Wales will almost always be about Gareth Bale, and as manager Ryan Giggs confirmed before the game, the Real Madrid man does not feature tonight due to ongoing concerns over a groin injury.

Giggs is, however, hopeful that the Wales talisman will be fit for the match against Ireland on Tuesday.

Wales forward Gareth Bale celebrates scoring during his side's UEFA Nations League clash with Republic of Ireland on September 6, 2018© Reuters

7.01pmSam Vokes comes into the side as the central striker in place of Bale, which will mean that the hosts need to play in a completely different style to when Bale is on the field and leading the line.

Vokes has been in decent form for Burnley so far this season and will be a handful for any defence - if only due to his physicality - but he will be the first to admit that he doesn't offer the same level of threat as Bale.

7.03pmIn Bale's absence it is Arsenal's contract rebel Aaron Ramsey who is the leading international scorer in this Welsh side, having netted 14 times for his country in the past.

The most experienced, meanwhile, is Chris Gunter, who will be winning his 90th Wales cap this evening. He takes his role in what could be a five-man defence for Wales, with Giggs naming two recognised left-backs and right-backs to help protect down the flanks.

7.05pmAlso in that defence is Ashley Williams, who place in the team has been the subject of much debate in Wales since he was dropped for the last match against Denmark.

Williams himself has acknowledged that he needs to be be playing well for club side Stoke if he wants to be selected for his country, but tonight will be a chance for him to silence his doubters against some of the very best in the world.

7.07pmThat is the challenge which faces Ryan Giggs tonight, and he will be under no illusions as to just how difficult things will be this evening.

It is certainly the toughest test of his fledgling managerial career so far, and Welsh fans would be forgiven for fearing the worst after seeing the World Cup runners-up put the the sword by tonight's opponents last time out.

7.09pmThis will be the sixth Wales game that Ryan Giggs has taken charge of so far, and it is fair to say that it has been a mixed bag so far with two wins, two defeats and a draw.

Those two defeats both came against opposition Wales may have been expected to lose to - Uruguay and Denmark - but Giggs will no doubt be looking to focus on the positive and his side's wins certainly contain plenty of those.

Wales manager Ryan Giggs watches on during training in May 2018© Reuters

7.11pmWales began Giggs's reign in ideal fashion with a 6-0 drubbing of China during his very first match at the helm, while he has also recorded an impressive 4-1 win over Republic of Ireland in their opening UEFA Nations League match.

That victory over Ireland not only saw them exact some revenge for defeat in a crucial World Cup qualifier one year ago, but it also showcased an exciting and attacking young team which is being moulded by Giggs.

7.13pmThose two big wins means that Wales have now scored 10 goals in their five games under Giggs, but they have still managed to draw a blank in three of those - as many as in their previous 13 outings combined.

However, he has also lost two of his first five games at the helm, which is as many games as they had lost in the previous 12 outings before his appointment.

7.15pmThe most recent of those defeats came in the very last outing against Denmark, when Christian Eriksen's brace prevented a perfect two-from-two start in the Nations League.

That defeat brought Wales back down to earth just three days after their 4-1 triumph over Ireland, and now they risk losing two games on the bounce for only the second time in more than two years - and the first time under Giggs.

7.17pmAnother other than victory would be a surprise for the home side tonight, though, particularly as they have only won two of their last eight matches across all competitions.

Their record in friendly matches is also poor, failing to win any of their last eight non-competitive outings stretching all the way back to March 2014 = losing five in that time. What's more, they have failed to even score in five of those eight matches.

7.19pmThe Dragons are at home, though, and their only previous outing on Welsh soil under Giggs saw them pick up that big win over Ireland last month.

Another victory for Wales tonight - unlikely as it might seem right now - would hand Wales back-to-back home wins for the first time since June 2015, although they have not played at this stadium since losing to England here in 2011.

7.21pmSpain are rare footballing guests to this usually-rugby environment, then, but they seem to be fitting visitors having already begun to show that the World Cup was just a blip for them.

Of course, more time is needed to determine whether they will be able to return to their former glories any time soon, but new boss Luis Enrique certainly seems to have them moving back in the right direction.

7.23pmSimply put, the World Cup was a horror show for Spain.

As ever, La Roja were regarded as one of the favourites to lift the trophy, but some shaky form during the buildup preceded one of the most remarkable twists in World Cup history when Spain sensationally sacked unbeaten boss Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the tournament.

7.25pmThe reasoning behind Lopetegui's sacking was that he had agreed to take the Real Madrid job after the tournament, despite not running his decision by the Spanish FA, who had little choice up to put their foot down.

Lopegetui's departure surely had a fairly substantial impact on Spain's World Cup, despite Fernando Hierro's best efforts, and Spain eventually crashed out in the last 16 following a penalty shootout defeat to host nation Russia.

7.27pmEven their group-stage performances were underwhelming, with the exception of their thrilling 3-3 draw with Portugal. Spain also shared the spoils with Morocco in that group and only narrowly edged past Iran to make it into the ast 16.

Since then, though, things have begun to look a lot brighter again for Spain, with Luis Enrique now fully rested following a sabbatical from the game and eager to make a quick impact while in charge of the national team.

Luis Enrique in charge of Barcelona on May 27, 2017© Reuters

7.29pmSpain have not had easy games since their return from Russia either, facing two of the semi-finalists in their UEFA Nations League group - including the eventual runners-up Croatia.

I have mentioned that result a few times already tonight, and Spain certainly won't want to forget dishing out Croatia's heaviest ever competition defeat, but the other victory was also impressive in their own right as they came from behind to beat England at Wembley.

7.31pmSpain are now looking to win three successive matches for the first time since last November, and despite the doom and gloom surrounding the international setup at the moment, their record is actually still quite impressive.

Indeed, you have to go back to the last 16 at Euro 2016 for their last defeat inside normal time - a run of 26 matches across all competitions which includes 17 victories.

7.33pmSpain are also unbeaten in their last 16 away games across all competitions stretching back to March 2015, when they were beaten 2-0 in the Netherlands. Spain have won 10 of those away fixtures and scored in 15 of those, so you can expect another significant goal threat from the visitors tonight.

La Roja's record in friendlies is also ominous for Wales, with no defeats in their last 10 and only one loss from their last 17.

7.35pmPREDICTION: Right, we're 10 minutes away from kickoff at the Principality Stadium, which means that it is time for a prediction!

It is hard to see Wales winning this one without being able to call upon Bale, even with the home crowd behind them. Spain simply have the superior quality and if they can put Croatia to the sword, then they can do the same against Wales tonight.

SPORTS MOLE SAYS: Wales 0-3 Spain

7.37pmThese two nations have met on five previous occasions down the years, and unsurprisingly it is Spain who edge the head-to-head record.

However, Spain have only won two of those previous five matches, with two of those games ending all squad and Wales winning the other.

7.39pmIndeed, Wales were victorious the last time these two sides met, although that was way back in April 1985, when the hosts ran out 3-0 winners in Wrexham.

Wales boasted some brilliant players in that era - as demonstrated by the goals coming from Ian Rush (2) and Mark Hughes, although Spain did win the reverse fixture in World Cup qualifying by the same margin.

7.41pmThere has only ever been one previous friendly between these two sides, and this will be the first on Welsh soil having previously met in Valencia.

That occasion ended in a 1-1 draw in 1982, with Robbie James scoring for Wales to cancel out Satrustegui's opener for the hosts.

7.43pmRight, we're almost ready to get underway at the Principality Stadium, so let's have a quick reminder of the team news before we do get started...

WALES: Hennessey; Gunter, Williams, Davies; Roberts, Allen, Ampadu, John; Wilson, Vokes, Ramsey

SPAIN: De Gea; Azpilicueta, Ramos, Albiol, Gaya; Saul, Rodri, Ceballos; Suso, Morata, Alcacer

1 minKICKOFF:  Here we go, then! After a moment of silence for the victims of the tragic floods in Majorca, Spain get us underway!

3 minWales are trying to press this Spain team high up the pitch in these early stages, which is a bold tactic from Giggs considering the talent the visitors have on the ball.

5 minSpain have already taken control of the possession here - a pattern I suspect will continue throughout most of the night as Wales fall back into their defensive shape.

6 minThe visitors break into the box for the first time as Azpilicueta feeds the ball into the feet of Morata, who turns Williams easily but then sees his low cross cut out by the keeper.


8 minGOAL!  What a start for Spain, who have absolutely dominated these opening exchanges and already have the lead!

Hennessey comes out to punch a cross from the right flank and does so bravely, but it only goes as far as Gaya. His shot is dragged and eventually falls into the path of Alcacer, who fires his finish into the roof of the net.

Spain players celebrate Paco Alcacer's opener against Wales on October 11, 2018© Reuters

10 minThis has been an ominous start for Wales. They are behind already and have given up 78% of possession in the opening 10 minutes. They are struggling to lay a glove on the visitors at the moment.

12 minWales think that they are away and able to run at the Spain defence as Wilson begins to carry the ball forward, but Vokes was slow to get back before setting him up and the offside flag goes up.

14 minMorata makes a dart to the byline having found a bit of space out on the left, but his cross is deflected and then John nods it behind for a corner at the back post.

16 minWales are seeing a bit more of the ball now as they begin to settle into this match, but they still don't look like troubling De Gea in the Spain goal at the moment.

18 minGunter may well have gone into the book for this if it wasn't a friendly as he drags Morata to the ground. Further punishment could be incoming, though, with Spain lining up a free kick in a dangerous position...


19 minGOAL!  Spain have a second, and it is one of the easiest goals Ramos will score at international level.

It is truly dreadful defending from the home side as Ceballos floats a cross into the box and a few Spain players are queuing up completely unmarked in the middle. It is Ramos of all people to gets his head to it, nodding it back across goal and into the far corner.

Spain captain Sergio Ramos celebrates with Rodri and Alvaro Morata after scoring during his side's international friendly with Wales on October 11, 2018© Reuters

21 minThat really was incredibly poor defending from Wales. Spain are able to cut teams open with brilliant passing football, but that was far too simple and to allow Ramos - one of the biggest set piece threats in world football - in so much room is criminal.

22 minRamos - like Gunter a moment ago - escapes with a challenge which might otherwise have been a yellow card for a trip on Wilson.

23 minSHOT!  Wilson shapes as though he is going to cross the ball but instead looks to catch De Gea out by going for goal. He scored a stunner for Cardiff with a free kick in the EFL Cup not long ago, but this one flies over the crossbar.

25 minThis is shaping up to be a worrying night for Spain, who must be fearing a bit of a rout here. Spain are in complete control at the moment.

27 minWilson has a hint of a chance to close down a slightly underhit back-pass, but De Gea is alert to clear his lines. Those are the straws Wales are being forced to clutch at right now.


29 minGOAL!  Less than half an hour gone, and Spain are three up. It is all very messy as Morata goes down off the ball inside the box, but play goes on.

The ball bounces about inside the box and Allen and Wilson get in each other's way when trying to clear it, with the latter sending it looping into an even more dangerous position. Alcacer reads it, and volleys his finish past Hennessey from close range.

Spain players celebrate Paco Alcacer's opener against Wales on October 11, 2018© Reuters

31 minThat was more pretty poor defending from Wales then, and Spain are in no mood to pass up such opportunities tonight. This could be any score if they carry on like this.

33 minAnd I don't think Spain are done just yet...

34 minA small section of Wales fans give their team some ironic 'Oles!' as they string about four passes together inside their own half. There hasn't been much else to shout about.

36 minOFF THE POST!  Out of nothing, Wales come close to pulling a goal back! Wilson swings a corner into the box and Ampadu does well to get his head to the ball, although De Gea has it covered and allows it to loop against the outside of the post on its way behind.

38 minAnother remarkable stat for you - Paco Alcacer has now had nine shots on target for club and country since joining Dortmund, and he has scored with all of them. Lethal from the Barcelona loanee.

39 minBetter from Wales as John drives inside from the left flank before playing the ball into the feet of Vokes, who turns Ramos smartly but puts too much on his touch and it runs through to De Gea.

41 minThis has been better from Wales in the last few minutes as they begin to see a bit more of the ball inside the Spain half, although the visitors have perhaps taken their foot off the pedal since that third goal.

43 minIt will be interesting to see how Giggs adjusts things at half time. His side have given Spain far too much respect tonight, and it could be that he goes for damage limitation mode or throws caution to the win in the second half.


8.42pmThe first half comes to an end at the Principality Stadium and, in truth, it is already over as a contest with Spain having dominated this encounter so far.

The visitors lead by three goals against Wales and I can only see them increasing that advantage in the second half. Wales have simply been outclassed in this match so far.

8.44pmThe opening goal of the game arrived after just eight minutes, when Paco Alcacer continued his recent good form at club level with a clinical finish into the roof of the net.

Hennessey had come out to punch a cross from the right, but his clearance only made it as far as Gaya. Gaya's shot was scuffed, but eventually fell at the feet of Alcacer, who fired it past the Wales keeper.

8.46pmWales could have perhaps done better with that goal, but there were no errors as glaring as there were for the second as the hosts went AWOL while defending from a free kick.

Ceballos's delivery could have found as many as three Spanish players completely unmarked, and it should not have come as a surprise that Ramos was one of them - nor that he nodded his effort past Hennessey.

8.48pmSpain were three up and effectively out of sight before the half-hour mark as Alcacer doubled his personal tally for the evening, again taking advantage of a Wales mistake.

This time it was Wilson and Allen who got in each other's way, with Wilson only diverting the ball into the path of Alcacer, who lashed his finish past Hennessey.

46 minKICKOFF:  Wales get us back underway for the second half in Cardiff, and both sides have made changes at the break. James Chester and David Brooks have replaced Williams and Wilson. Spain have also made changes, with Kepa Arrizabalaga, Marc Bartra and Koke coming on for De Gea, Ramos and Saul.

48 minCHANCE!  Big chance for Spain to add a fourth early in this second half as Spain play a quick free kick when Wales are sleeping. Morata is alert and makes the run in behind the defence to leave himself one on one, but Hennessey is out well to thwart the Chelsea man.

50 minWALES SUB: Wales are forced into another change here as Ampadu limps off with an apparent knee problem, being replaced by Andy King.

52 minThere is a rather flat atmosphere inside the stadium at the moment, as you might expect. Credit has to go for Spain for that - they have quietened this crowd right down with their early goal and first-half dominance.

54 minBetter from Wales as Brooks leads the press high up the pitch, but Spain play out from the back around that press pretty comfortably. Wales cannot get close right now.

56 minCHANCE!  Spain are passing Wales to death at the moment, and the latest move eventually ends with a cross arriving into the box from the left. Alcacer rises to meet it, but can only plant his header over the crossbar.

58 minOFF THE BAR!  It is surely only a matter of time before Spain add to their lead. They come inches away from doing so here as Suso cuts inside from the left flank and curls a fine effort towards the top corner which crashes against the top of the crossbar.

59 minSAVE!  Ramsey tries his luck having found a bit of space just about within shooting range, drilling a low effort on the turn which Kepa collects comfortably, even though it was going wide anyway.

61 minThere are changes incoming for both sides, which will no doubt have an impact on the rhythm of this match - although the rhythm is all being dictated by Spain at the moment.

62 minWALES SUBS: It is a triple change from the hosts as Ben Davies, John and Allen are replaced by Matthew Smith, Tom Lawrence and Jazz Richards.

63 minSPAIN SUB: There is also a debut for Jonny as he replaces Azpilicueta at right-back for Spain. A proud moment for the Wolves man.

65 minCHANCE!  Another chance for the visitors as Gaya swings his cross into the middle which Morata meets. However, he gets his direction all wrong and plants his header wide of the target when he should have done better.

67 minJust over 20 minutes remaining in this match and Wales will be happy not to have suffered any further damage since half time - although Spain are still knocking on the door and there is a lot of defending left to do for the hosts here.

69 minWales just cannot get hold of the ball for any significant length of time here, and when they do they are all in their own half so have no-one to provide an outlet. It is a very thankless task for them at the moment.

70 minSAVE!  Rodri tries his luck at the end of the latest spell of pressure, but his low strike is comfortable for the keeper.

71 minCHANCE!  This has to go down as a chance by Wales' standards tonight as Ramsey and Brooks link up down the right channel before the latter drills a low cross into the box. Vokes gets there first, but his effort is quickly snuffed out by a fine challenge from Jonny.

73 minSPAIN SUB: There will be no hat-trick for Alcacer tonight as he is replaced by Iago Aspas. Aspas and Suso up front for Spain - Liverpool fans will despair!


74 minGOAL!  Spain have their fourth, and Wales cannot really have any complaints.

It is a special moment for Bartra as he scores his first international goal, and it is a really good header too as he rises highest to meet a corner and flicks his effort into the far corner. Nothing Hennessey could do there.

76 minJust under 15 minutes of this left for Wales to endure now. They have been utterly outclassed tonight.

78 minSpain have the ball in the back of the net once again as Aspas collects the ball and tucks his finish away, but the whistle has already gone for offside. It is marginal, but looks to be just about the right decision.

80 minA rare moment of attacking for Wales inside the Spain box here as Lawrence reaches the byline down the right channel. His low cross into the box is behind Vokes, though, and Spain are eventually able to hack the ball clear.

82 minSPAIN SUB: A final change for the visitors as Rodrigo replaces Suso.

83 minGood defending from Richards as he slides in to make a crucial challenge on Rodrigo inside the box, just as the Spain striker was darting to get on the end of Gaya's low cross.

85 minWales have got in down the right channel on a few occasions in this second half and Ramsey does so again here, stealing the ball off Gaya before cutting inside. However, his cross is cut out before it can cause any major problems.

86 minSAVE!  I believe this is Wales's first shot on target! It is nice football between Lawrence, Brooks and Vokes, the latter of whom chips the ball back into the path of Lawrence. The midfielder volleys it, but Kepa gets down to save comfortably.

87 minSAVE!  Spain go straight up the other end and test Hennessey as Rodrigo cuts inside before drilling a low strike towards the near post which the keeper saves. The ball bounces out towards Jonny, but there is no conviction on his header and it is easy for the keeper once again.

88 minBrooks has been one bright spark from this Wales performance - he has been really good since coming on. Here he advances forward before sliding Roberts in, but Gaya makes a fine last-ditch challenge.


89 minGOAL!  A consolation for the hosts as Vokes pulls one back.

Once again Brooks is involved, delivering a beauty of a cross with the outside of his left foot which Vokes meets to steer a header into the bottom corner past Kepa.


9.43pmThe referee puts Wales out of the misery with no injury time, although the hosts will feel slightly better about themselves now having scored that late consolation and improved going forward in the final 10 minutes or so.

There is no doubt that Spain are deserved winners tonight, though, having outclassed Wales from the very first whistle. Goals from Paco Alcacer either side of a Ramos header put the result beyond doubt before the half-hour mark, and a fourth from Marc Bartra was no more than they deserved.

9.45pmRight, that is all we have time for this evening!

Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for tonight's match as Spain outclass Wales in Cardiff to make it three wins from three under Luis Enrique. I will leave you with our match report, and be sure to check back in for plenty more live international football over the coming days.

From me, though, it is goodbye for now!

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Spain midfielder Marco Asensio celebrates scoring during his side's Nations League clash with Croatia on September 11, 2018
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