SHAFAQNA – Gareth Bale was not the only one in pain at the Cardiff City Stadium on Monday night. It was torture at times for Wales fans watching as Cyprus pressed for an equaliser the entirety of the second half with a man advantage.
Andy King’s red card was understandable in isolation. Stretching to reach the ball, he planted his studs into the ankle of Cyprus captain Constantinos Makrides.
It was not malicious but Manuel Grafe applied the letter of the law and produced a red card. But considering the challenges that had come before it was inconsistent officiating by the German to say the least. Bale was booked for his protest.
Gareth Bale is fouled by Cyprus player Marios Nikolaou, who then receives a yellow card for his tackle on the Real Madrid star
Wales star Bale rolls around on the deck in agony after the foul by Nikolaou during the Euro 2016 qualifying match against Cyprus
The players of Wales and Cyprus get in a scrap while Bale is pictured on the ground holding his left knee after the challenge
Wales midfielder King fouls Constantinos Makrides of Cyprus and receives a straight red card for the challenge from behind on Monday
King (second from right) looks surprised to be sent for an early shower after the challenge on Makrides during the Euro 2016 qualifier
King walks off the field after 48 minutes as the midfielder left Wales with just 10 men for almost the entirety of a tough second half
MATCH FACTS AND RATINGS
They did, just about. Had George Efrem applied a more accurate header seven minutes from time this would have been a disappointing draw. As it was, this should be a galvansing win that sees Wales travel to Belgium next month in charge of their qualifying group for Euro 2016.
In his words, Coleman approached this game down to the ‘bare bones’ of his squad, which had been depleted by injuries to 11 senior players.
Within 60 seconds of this game, that number had swollen to a dozen.
Simon Church went down from a push by Giorgos Merkis and suffered a suspected dislocated left shoulder on impact with the turf.
Given Church is the only recognised striker available to Coleman, he was forced to alter tactics, pushing Bale up front, bringing George Williams in behind, and sending Cotterill on to the wing.
Cyprus were not to know George Best had entered the field. So taken were Cotterill’s parents with the Manchester United great, they gave him those middle names in tribute.
His goal, seven minutes after his introduction, was more direct than dazzling.
The Birmingham player collected the ball on the left channel and flighted a cross that swung towards goal, took one bounce, and went in.
Robson-Kanu provided a distraction in the middle but goalkeeper Tasos Kissas looked a lost puppy as he wandered around his six-yard area.
Kissas was only playing because of an injury to Cyprus No 1 Antonis Giorgallides and it showed.
Three times in the opening 15 minutes Bale tested him from range and each time he fumbled the save.
Bale, playing through the pain of a sore back, was in further agony when Marios Nikolaou launched into a dreadful late challenge that could have earned more than the yellow awarded.
Bale received a late kick from Dossa Junior in the 23rd minute too but he did not care. It came as he flicked on King’s pass to allow Robson-Kanu to run through and finish through the legs of Kissas.
Two goals to the good and Bale was not on the scoresheet.
It was the kind of fast start desired, and the home crowd wasted no time chanting ‘top of the league’. Wales were looking down, comfortably, on Group B.
But nine minutes from the break that picture altered a little.
Cotterill clattered into Dimitris Christofi and conceded a free-kick on the right flank. Vincent Laban whipped over the dead ball and Wayne Hennessey, so assured against Bosnia, came to punch clear but instead diverted it into his net.
Wales manager Chris Coleman consoles Simon Church as he leaves the field with his left arm in a sling after a fall just three minutes in
Wales substitute David Cotterill, who came on for Church in the sixth minute, crosses and scores the home side’s first goal of the game
Hal Robson-Kanu (right) of Wales watches after failing to get a touch as Cotterill’s cross goes in to score the first goal of the qualifier
Bale (left) joins Cotterill and King in celebration during the Euro 2016 qualifying match in Group B as Wales take a 1-0 lead on Monday
Robson-Kanu scores his team’s second goal during the Euro 2016 qualifier against Cyprus after a clever flick through by Bale
Robson-Kanu runs away in celebration as Wales double their lead on Monday night against Cyprus in the 23rd minute
Wales celebrate together after going 2-0 up as the home side seemingly looked en route for a comfortable victory against Cyprus
Bale nearly reopened the cushion with a deflected free-kick that Kissas pushed on to the bar, before Joe Ledley saw his header cleared off the line by Merkis. But two minutes after the interval the picture shifted again. King dismissed.
George Williams’s full debut was brought to an end, as Dave Edwards arrived to give security.
Bale was the outlet and he was crassly brought down by Charis Kyriakou in the closing stages. Only a yellow was shown, to complete an erratic night from Grafe.
It meant that rather than building on goals from Cotterill and Robson-Kanu, Wales were forced to defend deep to maintain their advantage.
Vincent Laban of Cyprus celebrates scoring his goal with manager Charalampos Christodoulou as the visitors get back in the game
Cyprus gave themselves a chance of coming back into the tie with Laban’s goal as it was 2-1 when half time approached in Wales
Bale leaps for the ball during the Euro 2016 qualifying win aagisnt Cyprus as Wales hang on for their second Group B victory
Bale and Co remain unbeaten in Group B after two wins and one draw with the latest three points coming against a tough Cyprus challenge
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2791440/wales-2-1-cyprus-gareth-bale-dragons-team-mates-hang-euro-2016-qualifying-win.html#ixzz3G3rX5A6P
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook