Wales fight hard for draw, Spain show new promise

By Hilton Yip Source:Global Times Published: 2014-11-17 22:18:02

Yet another week of international ­soccer is upon us, in what is starting to feel like a regular occurrence.

However, despite the annoyance of a break in the main leagues, some good action was still served up in qualifiers for Euro 2016.

Spain saw a glimpse of a bright future after the dismal depth of the World Cup as Isco helped guide them to a comfortable win over Belarus. While Spain were expected to win, the manner of victory and the play of the 22-year-old Real Madrid youngster were heartening. Fellow 22-year-olds Koke and Alvaro Morata also played for Spain, showing that the Spanish talent pipeline is still flowing despite the retirement of several old mainstays in the summer.

Gareth Bale may be one of the world's best and most expensive players, but his country Wales is a ­minnow, having not made an international tournament since 1958.

On Sunday, Wales took a big step in rectifying this by drawing 0-0 to Belgium in Brussels. The game proved two things - that a scoreless game of soccer can still be enthralling and that it takes more than one great player to carry a team. Bale played well, but his teammates did too. Belgium had the lion's share of possession, but Wales managed to absorb the pressure and earn a vital away point.

England beat Slovenia 3-1 as expected. However, the first half was a dismal affair in which neither side did much, but the match suddenly sprung to life thanks to an England own goal early in the second half.

Rather than be stunned by the unlikely Slovenian lead, England were jolted into action. Two minutes later, Wayne Rooney charged into the Slovenian penalty box, was brought down and took the ensuing penalty to equalize. Danny Welbeck then scored two goals to complete the comeback.

Qualifiers were also played across Africa for the 2015 Africa Nations Cup and special mention must be made of South Africa who qualified by beating Sudan 2-1. The win was a fitting tribute to South Africa's late captain and goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa.

In a tragedy that shocked the ­nation, Meyiwa, 27, was killed by ­robbers on October 27 near ­Johannesburg. The match was then moved to Meyiwa's hometown ­Durban to honor him. Hopefully, Meyiwa's ­teammates can honor him further next year with victory in the ­continental tournament.

The author is an editor with the Global Times.

Posted in: Extra Time

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