Sep 5, 2016 at 7.45pm UK at ​Millennium Stadium
Wales
4-0
Moldova
Vokes (38'), Allen (44'), Bale (51', 90')
FT(HT: 2-0)

Dedov (11')

Live Commentary: Wales 4-0 Moldova - as it happened

Live Commentary: Wales 4-0 Moldova - as it happened
© Getty Images
Relive Sports Mole's coverage as Wales beat Moldova 4-0 in the first game of their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign in Cardiff.

Wales took on Moldova in the first game of their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign looking to kick-on following a standout showing at Euro 2016 during the summer.

First-half goals from Sam Vokes and Joe Allen put Chris Coleman's charges into the driving seat, before a second-half brace from Gareth Bale led the hosts to a 4-0 victory at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Relive all of the action from the contest with our minute-by-minute updates below.


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6.45pmGood evening everyone and thank you for joining us as we bring you live coverage as Wales take on visitors Moldova in the opening game of the Dragons' 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.

6.46pmWales upset all of the odds recently at the Euros, as they reached the semi-finals of a major tournament for the first time in the country's history. That run saw them produce standout performances, including a memorable humbling of Belgium in the quarter-finals.

6.48pmSuch has been the progress under coach Chris Coleman, Wales are now expected to go through from this group in order to reach the group stages of the World Cup in two years time. The country now found themselves as top seeds in Group D and will be considered strong favourites in Cardiff this evening.

6.51pmThat said, these sides have only ever faced each other twice in their respective histories. When the sides met back in 1994, Wales suffered a humiliating 3-2 defeat in a fixture that came just three years after Moldova had gained independence after the end of the old Soviet Union.

6.53pmThings have been slightly more joyous for Wales in recent times. When the teams last met in September 1995, the Dragons were able to snatch a 1-0 win over their opponents on home soil. Wales coach Coleman actually featured in both of those matches, as did his current assistant Kit Symons...

6.54pmA standout run at the Euros, before being beaten by eventual winners Portugal in the semis, has seen Wales claim 10 wins in their last 16 competitive international fixtures, drawing three and losing three. The Dragons now find themselves sitting 11th in the Fifa world rankings, 154 places above Moldova.

6.56pmThis evening's visitors have it all to do against an in-form Wales side. Moldova have managed to earn just one victory in their last 20 matches. In those contests they have been able to score only eight goals and have conceded 26.

6.57pmOne thing that will be interesting to see tonight is just how some of these Welsh players will react at the start of the new season. Many of Coleman's stars are still lacking proper match fitness. Full-back Ben Davies has not played for Tottenham this season and skipper Ashley Williams has started just once in the Premier League game after joining Everton.

6.59pmElsewhere, standout forward Hal Robson-Kanu has not been able to gain any minutes after joining West Bromwich Albion on deadline day. One man wanting to produce a marvellous piece of history during this qualifying campaign is Gareth Bale. With 22 goals from 61 caps, Bale is now just six behind Ian Rush's Wales goalscoring record of 28.

7.02pmTime for some team news now...

7.02pmWALES STARTING XI: Hennessey; Gunter, Taylor, Davies, Chester, Williams, Allen, King, Ledley, Bale, Vokes

7.04pmWALES SUBSTITUTES: Robson Kanu, Huws, Fon Williams, G. Williams, McDonald, Richards, Cotterill, Collins, Lawrence, Ward, Dummett, Church

7.05pmMOLDOVA STARTING XI: Cebanu; Armas, Epureanu, Ionita, Galcan, Cebotaru, Dedov, Ginsari, Cascaval, Cojocari, Jardan

7.07pmMOLDOVA SUBSTITUTES: Koselev, Namasco, Golovatenco, Cocluc, Racu, Bordian, Picusciac, Ivanov, Mihalov, Sidorenco, Bugaev

7.08pmSo the major news for Wales fans is that Burnley's Sam Vokes has been preferred to Robson Kanu, who starts on the bench. The Burnley frontman is to partner alongside Bale in attack, while Leicester's Andy King also gets a shot in Coleman's side. Neil Taylor also features despite his lack of minutes for Swansea City so far this season.

7.13pmKing's inclusion will be an interesting one. He has been called upon by the Foxes already this season and is clearly seen as a fill-in for the injured Aaron Ramsey. The Arsenal man was instrumental during the country's time in France during the summer and it will prove intriguing to see how his absence will impact the side tonight.

7.15pmHere's a quick glimpse of how things are shaping up ahead of kickoff in Cardiff:


7.16pmDespite goals being an issue for Moldova, they have been able to produce some impressive displays in defence. Given their status in world football, you might have expected them to ship a lot more than just the 26 conceded in their last 20 fixtures. Wales will have to do well in the final third in order to breakdown the resolute travellers tonight.

7.17pmAnother fascinating side story this evening will be how Wales manage to adjust to their new status on the global stage. Their impressive performances at the Euros have surely made them one of the sides to beat now during these qualifying stages for the next World Cup.

7.19pmColeman has been fully aware of such ambitions from other sides and has highlighted that area as one of the challenges approaching his team tonight. Here's what he recently had to say, according to BBC Sport: "People will look at us differently now, teams will come here and be happy with a point when maybe that wasn't the case before. It's a different challenge, a good one, and it's exciting for us. Moldova lost eight of their games in the Euro 2016 qualifiers so their record in terms of wins or the world rankings is not great. But they don't concede many goals, they lose 1-0 or 2-1 and are always in the game. They are physical and aggressive and well organised. If we think we can roll up and it will go our way and be over by 60 minutes, it may not be."

7.23pmThe last time that Wales were able to open their World Cup qualifying campaign with a victory was back in 2008. Vokes was the scorer on that day as he gave his country a slender 1-0 win over Azerbaijan.

7.23pmThis evening sees the beginning of a long road to the World Cup in 2018. Wales will be aiming to secure qualification into the tournament for the first time since 1958.

7.24pmCredit must go to Coleman for sticking with his country too, especially given that he was reportedly approached for a number of club jobs after his contributions during the Euros. The Welshman has now insisted that qualifying is his country's priority: "What happened at the European Championships was way beyond mine or any of our dreams," Coleman said recently, according to BBC Sport.

"If you are a manager at a club and things are going well, it's a great feeling because you've got the whole city behind you. If you're manager of your country and it's going well, you've got a whole nation behind you - a whole nation proud of you. For the World Cup I have to use the word 'desperation'. We need to feel like that. Every result we get is massive for us, just as important as the last one. It doesn't matter who we're playing against. It's all about accumulating enough points to get us where we need to be."


7.30pmLooking at the rest of the group, Wales may be favourites but none of the tasks ahead will be particularly easy. Serbia are arguably the side with the shortest odds for qualification, but both Austria and the Republic of Ireland are capable of producing surprise results. Wales will be desperate to start things off with three points.

7.32pmBale will obviously be crucial in terms of carving open this Moldova defence. The frontman has enjoyed a positive start to the new La Liga season with Real Madrid, after grabbing a brace in the club's first game of the campaign against Real Sociedad.

7.35pmPREDICTION! We've got 10 minutes to go until kickoff now and it is time to make a prediction. You have to really back the Dragons to kick things off with a victory on home soil tonight. Despite being without Jonathan Williams and Ramsey, the home side should have enough out there to get through quite comfortably. Bale will likely be the key man tonight, but also watch out for Vokes in the final third. I'm going for a 3-0 victory regardless of Moldova's seemingly resolute defence.

7.38pmDavies' inclusion has been a slight surprise, but Coleman must back the full-back's fitness otherwise he would not be out there, surely? He'll be expected to get forward in order to help make some space for his frontmen to work with. Hopefully we'll see that sort of quick passing that was apparent at the Euros. Joe Allen will undoubtedly be important there.

7.40pmFive minutes to go now as the players line up in the tunnel. The atmosphere is already building nicely inside the Cardiff City Stadium...

7.42pmWe're now just running through the national anthems and we'll be off. We've started with Moldova, it's a bit of a foot stomper this one. Almost every player is quite some way out of time too...

1 minKICKOFF! Moldova get us moving here in Wales. The visitors will likely be out to frustrate the hosts in the opening half of proceedings. The visitors are in yellow, while Wales feature in red and white.

2 minThe ball is worked around the visitors' defence before being moved forward with a lumped kick towards the byline, which allows Wales to gain a throw. The hosts proceed to bring the ball down on the deck and circulate possession.

3 minAllen is the main mover of the ball in the middle as he aims to knit midfield and attack. It's already evident that Moldova are set out to defend. They currently have 10 men behind the ball, inclusive of the keeper.

4 minThe visitors manage to put together some clever passes across the pitch in order to pick out Dedov down the left channel, but he cannot get the beating of right-back Gunter, who does well to step across and prevent the ball from being launched into the box.

5 minSome wonderful hold-up work from Vokes sees the striker bring the ball down before threading a ball out towards Ledley on the right. Thankfully for Moldova, Jardan gets over just in time to steal away possession at the vital moment. Wales slowly increasing their tempo here.

7 minPENALTY SHOUT! Gunter makes some good progress down the right and is able to check inside the area, where he goes tumbling down under the challenge of Dedov only for the referee to wave play on. That was a close call for the away side...

8 minThe Dragons get the chance to float something into the area as Allen wins a free kick, but his delivery is far too lofty and allows Cebanu to come off his line and claim before the ball reaches Ledley at the back-post.

11 minMoldova have stood up firm to Wales in the opening 10 minutes of the contest. King and Allen have been working things through the middle nicely, but the away side have responded by shuffling across to shut out the play.

13 minThe home side haven't been at their pacey best just yet, but you get the sense they are beginning to slowly move through the gears. This time Gunter swings a ball into the box, where possession is only cleared as far as Ledley, who fires off a shot straight into the arms of a delighted Cebanu in the centre of the Moldovan goal.

16 minBale comes into the game for the first time and he shows a great change of pace to beat the on-rushing Armas, who eventually brings down the Welsh frontman with a harsh challenge on the right wing. Wales will need to make use of the flanks tonight if they want to be able to stretch this compact Moldovan back-line.

19 minTaylor uses the space down the left wing and he is able to cut inside to beat two Moldovan defenders just inside the area. The full-back almost picks out a delightful pass for an unmarked Bale inside the area, but Cascaval manages to get a foot in at the crucial point.

20 minThe wide areas are becoming vital now. Allen shows great feet to find Ledley in space, who swings a delightful ball for Vokes at the back-post. The frontman has to challenge the keeper for the ball, but the away stopper wins out as he is awarded a soft free kick after a slight clash of heads inside the box. The striker had every right to go for it really...

23 minWhat can Wales do here to find an early goal? The flanks have proven beneficial already. After an even opening, Moldova have retreated into a defensive shape and it seems like that is where they'll remain for the rest of the half. Wales will need to up the tempo a little at some point.

25 minSome wonderful work down the left channel finds the run of Davies inside the flank and he looks up before picking out a cross towards Vokes in the area. Jardan shows great awareness, though, as he comes across to cut out the pass with the Wales striker lurking in the box.

28 minCLOSE! Things have been a little scrappy in the final third for Wales, but Bale pulls out the stops with a wonderful turn to deceive Gatcan and earn his side a dangerous free kick to the right side of the Moldovan box. The Madrid man's delivery curls in towards the back-post, but nobody decides to gamble and the ball flies wide of the target. That was crying out for somebody to gamble on it...

33 minThe long ball into the box could prove to be the most efficient method for Wales at the moment. This time a hoofed ball drops for Vokes, who does well to battle his marker to win the ball. Possession looks like it might just fall for Ledley inside the box, only for the referee to call for a foul on Moldovan centre-back Cascaval.

34 minMoldova have achieved exactly what they've set out for thus far. Wales cannot find a way through and the frustration is starting to tell. The home side's final balls have been far from the required standard at the moment. Coleman will want to see a big improvement in the second half.

37 minAlmost! King pulls out a world-class through ball to cut the visitors' defence to pieces and find the run of Gunter. The full-back gets his head up to send a ball across the face of goal, only for Epureanu to make the challenge.

38 minGOAL! WALES 1-0 MOLDOVA (SAM VOKES)

39 minAnd there we have it! A real piece of quality changes the direction of the contest for the home side. Bale is given far too much time out on the right channel, where he is able to swing in an inch-perfect delivery into the box for Vokes, who climbs well above a stranded Jardan before heading down beautifully beyond Cebanu.

42 minMoldova's plan might need to change now if they want something out of this contest, but they could feasibly look to protect their goal difference instead. Wales appear to be moving the ball with more confidence after finding that opener.

43 minSAVE! Bale gets a bit too much space on the edge of the area and the frontman looks for the shot from distance. It looks like his effort might just flash into the bottom corner, but Cebanu pulls off a blinder to get down and tip the ball wide of his post.

44 minGOAL! WALES 2-0 MOLDOVA (JOE ALLEN)

45 minWe have another! The resulting corner sees the ball punched clear into the path of an on-rushing Allen, who tries something speculative down low. The midfielder gets the rub of the green as his shot whistles under Cebanu and gives the midfielder his first ever goal for his country. Wales are in the driving seat now...

45+1 minWe're going to have three added minutes here...

45+3 minHALF TIME: WALES 2-0 MOLDOVA

8.36pmSo the referee calls time on an eventful first half of football in Wales. Much of that first period proved to be a frustrating one for Wales, who we struggling to find a way through against a resolute Moldovan side. In the end, though, Bale's quality has proven the difference and the hosts find themselves in a comfortable position going into the second half.

8.44pmWales had really struggled to carve something out up until that goal. Bale can do that though, in one swift move he's changed the hosts' fortunes in this encounter. You can't ignore the finish either. Vokes moved superbly to evade his marker and head beyond Cebanu.

8.46pmThe first goal has clearly had an impact on this Welsh side. They moved the ball with real vigour once that opener had gone in. Allen took the second goal brilliantly and he'll be delighted after having scored his first ever goal for his country. The hosts should walk this contest now...

45 minKICKOFF! Wales get us moving again in the second half. Given Moldova's scoring record in recent years, Coleman's men will be confident of notching up their goal difference in the second period.

47 minThe hosts have settled back into a spell of possession as they go in search of a third goal tonight. The Wales fans are now in full song. It would take something pretty special here for Moldova to find a route back into this contest.

49 minLedley makes some good use of the space down the left channel and aims to pick out the run of Vokes in behind. Luckily for Moldova, Jardan reads things perfectly and is able to thwart the danger.

51 minGOAL! WALES 3-0 MOLDOVA (GARETH BALE)

52 minFrom hero to zero in a few moments for right-back Jardan. The defender looks for a forward pass before deciding that he needs to go back to his fellow defenders. He has four to choose from, but somehow can only pick out a horrible back-pass that is intercepted by Bale. The Welshman still has work to do but he makes things count by racing past the visiting centre backs before chipping a delightful finish over an on-rushing Cebanu to make it 3-0.

56 minThe visitors know that they are firmly on the ropes now and have decided to try and keep the ball for a little longer when possible. Wales don't mind, though, as they find themselves in a perfect position going into the final 30 minutes of the game.

60 minWales have been improved in the second period. It seems likely the opening goal took some sort of weight off their shoulders. The Dragons' passing has been crispy and with pace. You wouldn't bet against them finding one or two more goals tonight.

62 minThe referee should really go into his pocket here as Moldova throw about some rather hefty challenges. Cojocari produces something rash on Ledley, but manages to get away without getting booked.

65 minMoldova make a rare foray forward and Williams has to be alert to thwart the run of Ionita, who aims to make use of a strong knock-down from Cebotaru.

66 minThe visitors get the chance to whip a delivery into the box after winning a free kick over on the left side. The ball into the area is a little soft, however, leaving Hennessey to come out and claim.

67 minSUBSTITUTION: Wales make their first change of the night as Ledley is replaced by Cardiff's Emyr Huws. The youngster is coming on in order to earn his eighth cap for his country.

69 minHuws does really well over on the right flank to cut inside and pick out a lovely whipped ball into the box with his left foot. It appears like his delivery might just find Vokes at the back-post, but the striker cannot climb high enough to get his head on the ball.

71 minHuws is in the thick of it again, this time as he combines early with Gunter to help get the ball into the box. King almost gets his head on the delivery before Moldova head away for a corner. The resulting ball into the box is sent in by Williams, but the visitors are able to stand firm.

74 minThe hosts enjoy a spell of possession camped just outside of the Moldova area. King and Allen combine beautifully to thread the ball around, where it eventually lands at the feet of Bale. The goalscorer aims to swing something into the box, although his effort goes off radar and straight into the grateful arms of Cebanu.

75 minSUBSTITUTIONS: A huge round of applause sounds out as Vokes is replaced by Robson Kanu for the hosts. Moldova also make a double change with Eugen Sidorenco and Radu Ginsari enter the fray.

77 minThe away side hold the ball for a what seems like an age in comparison to their efforts throughout the rest of the evening. Jardan eventually goes bored and goes for a wild effort from distance, which goes high and wide without troubling Hennessey.

82 minCLOSE! Some space opens up for King just short of the Moldova box and he opens up to unleashed a stinging effort that flies just over the visitors' crossbar with Cebanu looking well beaten.

85 minCan Wales grab another here? This contest has been dead and buried for the past 30 minutes or so. Moldova are doing their best to keep things down as Wales look to play through with vigour in the final few minutes. This second half hasn't been bad for the hosts, who are still clearly waiting on everyone to get into the swing of the new season.

88 minRobson Kanu has looked lively since his introduction. This time he wrestles beyond both of his markers and gets his head up inside the box. He aims to pick out Bale, but Cascaval somehow finds his feet quickly to cut out the pass with the goal gaping.

90 minGatcan gets a little lucky as he seems to catch Allen with a swinging arm... On another night that could have been either a red or a yellow, this time he gets away with it.

90+2 minFour minutes of additional time here...

90+3 minSAVE! Robson Kanu almost ends proceedings with a goal. The striker produces a strong effort on the turn, but Cebanu is equal to it as he gets down low to keep out the striker's shot.

90+4 minPENALTY TO WALES!

90+5 minWALES 4-0 MOLDOVA (GARETH BALE)

90+5 minFULL TIME: WALES 4-0 MOLDOVA

9.45pmSo the referee blows for full time after some late drama at the Cardiff City Stadium. Bale was apparently fouled in the area by a retreating Cascaval, allowing the Madrid man to notch his second of the night. Wales have got their campaign underway with a commanding win here!

9.46pmFollowing those two first-half goals, tonight's result was never really in question. Coleman's men did much better in the second offering and they will undoubtedly be happy after managing to put four beyond a Moldova side that rarely ever concede more than one goal in a game. Onwards and upwards you hope for Coleman and his men. That's going to be all from me tonight, thanks for joining us!

Sam Vokes of Wales in action during the International Friendly match between Wales v Ireland at the Cardiff City Stadium on August 14, 2013
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