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Gareth Bale nets winner but Ryan Giggs' Wales fail to impress in Azerbaijan win

Gareth Bale headed a dramatic late winner as Ryan Giggs and Wales were made to sweat by minnows Azerbaijan despite being gifted a comical opener. The visitors, ranked 109th in the world, had never won a European Championships qualifier away in 31 previous attempts.

Bale's blocked shot from 25 yards looped up and landed on defender Pavlo Pashayev's back and rolled past wrong-footed keeper Salahat Agayev. But after the break Mahir Emreli broke clear to score a shock equaliser.

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Anything other than a win would have left Wales facing heartbreak in their bid to qualify for Euro 2020. But Real Madrid ace Bale spared boss Giggs a major embarrassment with a late winner to keep alive Wales' Euro 2020 hope

Giggs' side now climb a place to third in Group E after Croatia beat Slovakia. And the result was all that mattered really but it will be a concern how they laboured to victory. The hosts started brightly as Swansea defender Joe Rodon, making his debut, got on the end of Harry Wilson's deep free-ki

Bale did well in the fourth minute to get away down the right and cross for Tom Lawrence who volleyed wide at the near post. Liverpool attacking ace Harry Wilson, on loan at Bournemouth , was fortunate to escape punishment in the 17th minute for tangling with Richard Almeida. Wilson appeared to stand on Almeida's leg while the midfielder was flat out on the ground with the ball between his legs.

Wilson appeared to stand on Almeida's leg while the midfielder was flat out on the ground with the ball between his legs. But Wilson avoided a reprimand and the hosts benefited from another stroke of good fortune in the 26th minute as they took the lead from a crazy own goal. Bale had a left-foot shot blocked which looped up in the air , landed on the back of Pashayev and rolled into the goal with keeper Salahat Agayev stranded after rushing out to claim the ball.

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Left-back Neil Taylor lost possession with a loose pass and Emreli sprinted clear from Ramil Sheydaev's ball to score at the second attempt after Wayne Hennessey spilled his original effort. But Wales then piled forward and Bale headed in late on for his 32nd international goal after Joe Allen's shot was blocked.

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