A delighted Ryan Giggs hailed one of the best days of his life after Wales secured a place at Euro 2020 with a 2-0 win over Hungary.

Aaron Ramsey was the hero in Cardiff, scoring a goal in each half as Wales clinched the second qualifying spot behind Croatia in Group E – earning a shot at matching their Euro 2016 exploits following a semi-final run.

An uneven start to his first campaign in charge meant Giggs' men needed to win both of their closing matches to progress.

Victory in Azerbaijan over the weekend before success before their fervent home support saw them come good when it mattered.

"It's doesn't get any better," Wales manager Giggs told Sky Sports. "It's amazing. From where we were in the summer with those two defeats [away to Croatia and Hungary], credit to the lads the way they've come back.

"They've show grit, determination and quality. It's one of the best days of my life."

Ramsey's injury problems meant the Juventus star was making his first start of qualification on Tuesday.

"He's just showed that quality, that class," Giggs said. "The finishes… we missed him, but better late than never, I suppose."

Having never managed to represent Wales at a major tournament as a player, Manchester United great Giggs will revel in leading his country on such a grand stage.

"To be honest I haven't really thought about that," he added, referencing those playing disappointments.

"It's one of the greatest days of my life. There was a lot of hard work put in. Not only am I blessed with a good set of players but also the best staff I could ask for.

"The atmosphere every time we play in Cardiff… the fans are part of it. I was watching it in 2016 – you could tell the fans loved it then and they'll love this even more."

Gareth Bale risked incurring the wrath of Real Madrid with his celebration of Wales' Euro 2020 qualification.

Wales – semi-finalists at Euro 2016 – booked their ticket to next year's European Championship with a 2-0 win over Hungary on Tuesday.

Aaron Ramsey's double in Cardiff ensured Wales leapfrogged Hungary and clinched the second automatic qualifying spot in Group E.

Bale and his team-mates celebratedly wildly post-game, with the former Tottenham talisman particularly catching the eye.

Tipped to leave Madrid and criticised for his priorities amid his love for golf, Wales fans have adopted the chant, "Wales, golf, Madrid", which has been heard during the international break.

And on Tuesday, Bale was seen celebrating in front of a Wales flag with the words: "WALES. GOLF. MADRID... IN THAT ORDER".

Gareth Bale ribbed Aaron Ramsey over his fitness record after the Juventus man fired Wales to the Euro 2020 finals with a brace in the 2-0 win over Hungary.

Needing victory to progress as automatic qualifiers from Group E at Hungary's expense, Ramsey marked his first start of an injury-ruined campaign with a headed opener from Bale's 15th-minute cross.

The former Arsenal favourite was on the mark again early in the second half as Wales made it back-to-back European Championship qualifications.

"It’s about time he contributed, isn't it?" Bale told Sky Sports.

"Obviously he's a world-class player, you like to have him back. He showed again what a great player he is, scoring the goals that helped us through."

Wales were the surprise package of Euro 2016, with Ramsey and Bale to the fore as they reached the semi-finals.

Now both senior members in an increasingly youthful squad under Ryan Giggs, Ramsey was desperate to secure another outing on the biggest stage.

"We had the best time of our lives in France," he told Sky Sports. "We missed out on the [2018] World Cup, so it was a big effort.

"I missed a lot of this campaign but it's all worthwhile. Chipping in with a couple of goals is amazing.

"It means everything. We inspired a nation last time out. We wanted to do it again.

"There are some players here who haven’t experienced this. We wanted to give them a taste of it as well. We've got a great squad, a lot of great players coming through."

Speaking alongside Bale, Ramsey added: "There's still some life left in our legs yet. We're enjoying it. We'll enjoy tonight now as well."

Aaron Ramsey was Wales' hero as Ryan Giggs' side secured qualification for Euro 2020 with a 2-0 home win over Hungary.

One of the stand-out performers in his country's surprise run to the semi-finals of Euro 2016, Ramsey was making his first start of the current campaign following persisted fitness problems.

But the Juventus midfielder re-announced himself in style at a fervent Cardiff City Stadium, scoring a goal in each half as Wales deservedly claimed the win they needed to leapfrog Hungary and take the second automatic qualifying spot in Group E.

Gareth Bale, Daniel James and the goalscorer buzzed effectively behind imposing targetman Kieffer Moore throughout, although Giggs was also indebted to some first-half heroics from goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.

Wales began confidently and, when Adam Lang made the mistake of showing Bale on to his left foot on the right flank, the Real Madrid star whipped in an inviting cross for Ramsey to gleefully nod home.

Another wonderful Bale delivery – this time right-footed – saw Moore head narrowly wide in the 29th minute.

Hennessy produced a remarkable double-save to thwart Dominik Szoboszlai and Roland Sallai at close quarters in the 34th minute and it would prove a pivotal moment.

Instead of chasing the game, Wales were able to resume in composed fashion after the break and they soon had breathing space.

Moore – a handful in the air throughout for the Hungary defence - knocked down Ben Davies' 47th-minute set-piece and Ramsey, left negligently unmarked for a man of his finishing capabilities, made no mistake.

Giggs' eye-catching attacking midfield trio started to run through their repertoire, with Bale fizzing a free-kick narrowly over before James cut in to curl a shot just beyond the top-right corner.

An awful challenge from Istvan Kovacs on fellow substitute Ethan Ampadu highlighted Hungary's simmering frustration, while Peter Gulacsi saved with his boot to deny Ramsey the match ball 15 minutes from time.

What does it mean? Back-to-back Euros for Wales

Although UEFA's expansion to a 24-team tournament has leant a helping hand, Wales' achievement in reaching consecutive European Championships is a significant one for a country whose previous major tournament was the 1958 World Cup. Giggs has remained committed to letting promising youthful players flourish alongside his established stars, despite a rocky start in the group, and deserves his share of credit.

Rambo draws first and last blood

Wales got themselves in position without Ramsey but there is no doubt they go up a level with the former Arsenal man in their line-up. Fitness permitting, no nation will relish facing Bale, James and Ramsey in tandem come June.

Lang error costly for Hungary

That said, there are better ways to combat Bale than ushering him on to his lethal left foot to set up the opener. Hungary's night might still have been one of savour but for Lang's lapse.

What's next

Hungary get another bite at qualification in March's play-offs – the dream of turning out in the finals at Budapest's Puskas Arena still alive. Bale and his team-mates can dream of another unlikely tilt at European glory.

New Zealand-born duo Johnny McNicholl and Willis Halaholo have been included in the Wales squad for Wayne Pivac's first game in charge against the Barbarians a week on Saturday.

Versatile Scarlets back McNicholl and Cardiff Blues centre Halaholo are among five uncapped players selected by new head coach Pivac for the clash at the Principality Stadium.

Taine Basham, Shane Lewis-Hughes and Ashton Hewitt will also be hoping to don the red shirt for the first time against a Baa-baas side coached by former Wales boss Warren Gatland.

Captain Alun-Wyn Jones is among the absentees due to injury, while England-based duo Dan Biggar and Rhys Carre are unavailable as the game falls outside the Test window.

Pivac said: "It is great to get the squad announced and get the ball rolling on our first meet-up and first fixture next week.

"This Barbarians game is a great chance for us as a new squad and management to get together and to set the scene for what we are looking to do. Having this opportunity ahead of tournament rugby in the Six Nations is ideal for us.

"It is also a great chance for some players to really put their hand up and show what they are about and take to the field in front of a big crowd at home.

"We will be bringing a few additional players in to train with the squad during the week, just to see them in the environment and will also be bringing some of the injured players in for some of the scene setting style sessions."

 

Wales squad:

Forwards: Elliot Dee, Ryan Elias, Ken Owens, Rob Evans, Wyn Jones, Nicky Smith, Leon Brown, Samson Lee, Dillon Lewis, Jake Ball, Adam Beard, Bradley Davies, Seb Davies, Taine Basham, Ollie Griffiths, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Ross Moriarty, Aaron Shingler, Justin Tipuric, Aaron Wainwright.

Backs: Aled Davies, Gareth Davies, Tomos Williams, Sam Davies, Jarrod Evans, Willis Halaholo, Hadleigh Parkes, Owen Watkin, Owen Lane, Josh Adams, Steff Evans, Ashton Hewitt, Johnny McNicholl, Hallam Amos, Leigh Halfpenny.

Wales have suffered a further injury blow after prop Tomas Francis was ruled out for at least the start of the Six Nations due to shoulder surgery.

Francis hurt his shoulder while playing in the Rugby World Cup semi-final defeat against eventual champions South Africa.

Exeter Chiefs confirmed on Monday the 27-year-old will miss up to four months of action due to a "serious" problem.

That provides an additional selection headache to new Wales head coach Wayne Pivac, with their Six Nations campaign to start on February 1 against Italy and their last match against Scotland taking place on March 14.

They are already without star centre Jonathan Davies for the entire tournament, with fly-half Rhys Patchell also a doubt.

As for Exeter, the Premiership club have signed Argentine Enrique Pieretto due to the injuries to Francis and fellow prop Greg Holmes.

Director of rugby Rob Baxter said: "After two or three scans it became clear that Tom needs an operation to repair the shoulder injury he picked up with Wales at the World Cup.

"It's not great news for us, but at least we know where we stand now."

Gareth Bale believes the euphoric feeling of Wales' run to the semi-finals at Euro 2016 will spur Ryan Giggs' side on against Hungary.

Following a 2-0 victory over Azerbaijan on Saturday, Wales head into their final qualifying match knowing a win will be enough to secure a place at Euro 2020.

Bale scored three goals at the previous finals as Wales - with Chris Coleman in charge - reached the last four in France, going out to eventual champions Portugal.

The Real Madrid forward has claimed Wales can use the experiences gained from three years ago, plus their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, as inspiration heading into Tuesday's crucial clash in Cardiff.

"I think we can use both of [the experiences] to our advantage," Bale told a news conference.

"We have got the kind of euphoria of qualifying for our first Euros and doing so well at the competition that we really want to do that again.

"We've also got the negatives of knowing how it feels to miss out on qualifying for a tournament like we did with the World Cup.

"We can see how we don't want to feel after the game. We know prior to this game we can push and push not to feel like that again, because it's not a feeling you want in the dressing room after the game.

"The experience of qualifying for the Euros was massive and something I've never done before and to do it again might be a bit more impressive.

"It's going to stand in equal stead as last time, but we can't think about that just yet. We have another important match first and we have to focus on that as a team and a squad."

Giggs confirmed on Monday that Bale and Aaron Ramsey, who has been hampered by a thigh problem, are both ready to start against Hungary.

"I'm ready. I hadn't played in four weeks so it was important to get 60 minutes into my legs and get some match sharpness," Bale added.

"We spoke at the start of the week about trying to get 60 minutes and hopefully being a couple [of goals] up before I came off, so it worked out well, no problems, and I'm ready to go for Tuesday."

Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey are ready to start for Wales in Tuesday's crucial Euro 2020 qualifier against Hungary, manager Ryan Giggs has confirmed.

Real Madrid forward Bale made his first appearance in a month in the 2-0 win over Azerbaijan on Saturday, a result that kept alive Wales' hopes of qualifying automatically for next year's tournament.

Bale, who has been struggling with a calf injury, was replaced in the second half by Juventus midfielder Ramsey, who has been hampered by recent thigh trouble.

Giggs expects to be able to have both players in the starting line-up for the first time in their qualifying campaign when they face Hungary in Cardiff, a match in which the winners will secure a place at the Euro 2020 finals.

"We've got a few players who played 90 minutes for the first time against Azerbaijan, so it is important they get the recovery in over the next few days," Giggs said on Monday.

"The lads who got minutes needed minutes. It's a bit of a balancing act, the players I know who can't play 90 minutes - that will obviously influence the selection.

"Yeah, [Bale and Ramsey] are both ready to start. Gareth and Aaron, with Chris Mepham and Ethan Ampadu, all players who haven't had an awful lot of football, got the minutes they needed.

"We were able to get Gareth off and it was important to get Aaron on the pitch. Everyone in the squad is available to start."

Giggs has challenged his players to capitalise on the good fortunate of Croatia's win over Slovakia on Saturday.

The World Cup finalists came from a goal down to win 3-1 and book their own place at Euro 2020, while also ensuring Wales and Hungary have their fates in their own hands.

"We had the high of winning the game but when Slovakia go ahead you are fearing the worst, but Croatia are fantastic at home," Giggs said.

"They showed their quality. We needed favours and we got those favours. Now it is time for us to capitalise.

"It's in our hands. It's a great, exciting challenge for us but we need to finish the job – it will be a very, very difficult game."

Ryan Giggs is hopeful of starting Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey in Wales' crucial Euro 2020 qualifier with Hungary after using both players in the win over Azerbaijan.

Bale made his first appearance in a month on Saturday as Wales eased to a 2-0 victory in Baku that ensures their bid to qualify automatically for next year's tournament will go down to the final game.

The Real Madrid forward has been carrying a calf injury and lasted an hour before being replaced by Juventus midfielder Ramsey, who has also struggled for playing time of late due to a thigh problem.

Giggs has yet to have both players on the pitch during qualifying but is optimistic of that changing against Hungary in Cardiff on Tuesday,

"We've still got to assess them," he said at his post-match news conference. "Getting Gareth off pretty early on and giving Aaron some minutes helped.

"Aaron showed his quality when he came on, but it's a quick turnaround. Gareth was blowing a little bit, which is understandable, but hopefully I'll have the option of starting both on Tuesday."

Wales are now unbeaten in four Group E games since back-to-back away losses in June and are within a point of second-place Hungary, while Slovakia are a point behind ahead of their game in hand against Croatia later on Saturday.

Victory for Wales against Hungary, coupled with Slovakia failing to take maximum points from their remaining two matches, would be enough for Giggs' men to secure automatic qualification for Euro 2020.

"We've had four good performances in a row, which we needed after the two difficult games in the summer," Giggs said. "We needed to be strong and we have been. 

"I was not happy with the number of corners we gave away, but they never really troubled us in open play and we could have scored a few more goals.

"Depending on the Croatia-Slovakia score, it sets us up nicely for Tuesday's game."

Kieffer Moore doubled his goals tally in a Wales shirt with a 10th-minute opener at Bakcell Arena, while Harry Wilson was also on target in the first half of a comfortable away victory.

It was Wales' first away win since October 2018 and Giggs added: "Some of our play was outstanding.

"Since the Azerbaijan game at home we've improved. We've played some difficult teams but overall the performances have improved. 

"We started to gain some sort of momentum, which isn't easy in international football. The lads came into camp really confident. It doesn't matter who's come in, they've all contributed. 

"It's not an easy place to come, so it's up there with one of our best performances."

Wales eased to a 2-0 win over Group E's bottom side Azerbaijan in Baku on Saturday to ensure their Euro 2020 qualification bid will go down to the wire.

Kieffer Moore scored for the second away game running to get Ryan Giggs' side off the mark inside 10 minutes and Harry Wilson - on target in Wales' last away win 11 months ago - added a second before half-time.

Despite creating chances there were no further goals for the visitors, who are already guaranteed the cushion of at least a play-off place, regardless of where they finish in their qualifying group.

Wales are now unbeaten in five games since back-to-back away losses in June and are within a point of second-place Hungary, who they face in their final qualifier on Tuesday, while Slovakia are a point behind and have a game in hand to play.

Azerbaijan have just one point from their seven group matches and were behind early on through Moore's back-post header, the Wales striker leaping highest to meet Wilson's whipped corner.

Emil Balayev produced a good save to deny Moore a second goal but there was no keeping out Wilson, who headed home the rebound after Daniel James' curled shot from distance struck the crossbar and then the post.

Wales thought they had a third goal five minutes into the second half when Tom Lockyer headed in from close range, only for the referee to rule it out for Ethan Ampadu's shove on Balayev.

Wilson was next to be denied by Balayev with an angled drive just before the hour mark, while Moore was wayward with a couple of efforts as Wales were made to settle for just the two goals.

What does it mean? Wales remain on course

This first away win in over a year for Wales lifts them a point above Slovakia, who face Group E leaders Croatia in their game in hand later on Saturday, and a point behind next opponents Hungary.

Giggs' men require a victory against Hungary in Cardiff on Tuesday to automatically qualify for Euro 2020, though maximum points for Slovakia from their two remaining matches would render that result immaterial.

Moore making big impact

Wigan Athletic striker Moore only earned his first cap for Wales in September but has played a huge part in their recent revival.

He scored his maiden international goal in the 1-1 away draw with Slovakia last month and doubled his personal tally with his early header here to settle any lingering Welsh nerves.

Bale on the periphery

Bale has not played for club or country in a month and that showed as he completed just 11 passes before being replaced by Aaron Ramsey - himself not fully fit - with an hour played.

What's next?

Wales welcome second-place Hungary to the Cardiff City Stadium in a crucial clash on Tuesday, while Azerbaijan conclude their campaign with a trip to Slovakia the same day.

Former Wales captain Sam Warburton has been added to his national side's coaching team by new head coach Wayne Pivac.

Warburton, who announced his injury-enforced retirement at the age of 29 last July, will serve as a technical advisor for the breakdown and defence on a campaign-to-campaign basis.

His appointment was confirmed on Friday, along with that of Byron Hayward, who will return to the WRU as defence coach.

"I'm delighted to be part of the senior national coaching team," said Warburton, who also skippered the British and Irish Lions during his illustrious playing career, in a WRU statement.

"It is a genuine privilege to be considered for such a role and I can't wait to do my upmost [sic] to contribute to help improve the team and players. With such a great group of players and management it is an amazing opportunity which I am very proud to be given."

Pivac has succeeded Warren Gatland following the New Zealander's 12-year stint as head coach and now has five former Wales internationals in his backroom team, with Warburton and Hayward joining Stephen Jones, Jonathan Humphreys and Neil Jenkins.

"I'm delighted to bring both Byron and Sam into the set-up and add to what is already a vastly experienced coaching team," said Pivac.

"Sam is one of the most experienced leaders in rugby with excellent knowledge and communication skills and having only recently retired he has a full grasp on the international game.

"We looked at the coaching structure and the roles of each coach and believed adding a second defensive role into the team adds value, adds a point of difference and allows a specialist to work in the contact area. I believe Byron and Sam will complement each other in the roles."

Wales' first game under Pivac is on November 30, when they will take on a Barbarians side coached by Gatland in Cardiff.

Gareth Bale has further risked the wrath of Real Madrid's notoriously vociferous support by acknowledging he gets more excitement playing for Wales than Los Blancos.

Bale, 30, joined Madrid for a then world-record fee reported to be worth €100million in 2013 and enjoyed significant success at the club, winning every competition, including four Champions League titles.

In the most recent of those Champions League successes in 2017-18, Bale scored a vital brace as Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1, but despite his haul of trophies at the club, fans never truly took to the winger, who has also had issues with coach Zinedine Zidane.

He has received particular criticism for his inability to speak Spanish and a perceived commitment to golf ahead of Madrid, with the Spanish media often focusing on the latter.

And Bale can expect further scorn from Madrid fans and the media after freely admitting on international duty that he unequivocally prefers playing for his country, who he is away with despite not playing at club level since suffering an injury in Wales' last get together.

"I definitely have more excitement playing for Wales," Bale told reporters on Friday ahead of facing Azerbaijan.

"I've been with most of the older players since we were in the Under-17s. It's like playing with your mates down the park on a Sunday. It's normal.

"With Wales, I'm speaking my own language and feel more comfortable. But it doesn't change what I do on the pitch.

"I always give 100 per cent on the pitch wherever I am, that's what I always strive to do."

Despite the vilification he is often forced to put up with in Spain, Bale insists he takes it all in good humour because he believes many of those criticising have no idea what they are talking about.

"I find it hilarious to be honest, especially some of the pictures and stuff my friends send me," Bale said.

"On one it said triple bogey, and I have never had a triple bogey! At least give me an albatross! It's funny.

"Some of the things I have seen… people don't understand and don't know what they're on about. So, I just find it quite funny."

Bale accepts that it might look curious from Madrid's perspective that he is fit to feature for Wales again after a month out of action domestically, but he insists it is a coincedence.

"I've done my rehab, four weeks training," he said. "Obviously there are two big games and I'm not sure if I'll play the two whole 90 minutes, but I'll do my best to play as much as I can. I fully understand the position I'm in.

"I've done as much as I can in terms of trying to get back as quickly as I can. We've done 11v11 to try and get some match fitness in me.

"If there had been a Real Madrid game this week, I would've been fit and training to play. Maybe to them it doesn't look great, but it's just a coincidence that the national team comes around this week.

"Everyone knows how passionate I am about Wales. We always look to not just qualify for one, we want to qualify for multiple tournaments.

"It's important not just for the here and now, but for the future of Welsh football. It will inspire kids again and hopefully make more kids play football and make our national team better for the future."

Wales will be without centre Jonathan Davies for the 2020 Six Nations after he was ruled out for at least six months due to impending knee surgery.

Davies, 31, sustained the injury during a pool game against Fiji at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

He missed the quarter-final against France but returned for the semi-final against eventual winners South Africa, while he also played in the bronze medal match against New Zealand.

The timetable for Davies' recovery means the Six Nations, which begins for Wales with a home fixture against Italy on February 1 and runs until March 14, will come too soon for him in his recovery.

 

Also set for a spell on the sidelines following Wales' return from the tournament in Japan is fly-half Rhys Patchell. Davies' Scarlets team-mate will miss between 12 and 16 weeks due to shoulder surgery.

Wales are defending Six Nations champions having achieved the Grand Slam in the 2019 tournament.

They will be under the leadership of Wayne Pivac following the departure of Warren Gatland, who spent 12 years at the helm.

Jonathan Davies' knee injury sustained at the Rugby World Cup will rule him out of Wales' 2020 Six Nations campaign. 

Eddie Jones will coach a Barbarians side including four of South Africa's Rugby World Cup winners against Fiji just two weeks after they beat his England side in the Rugby World Cup final.

Makazole Mapimpi, Tendai Mtawarira and Lukhanyo Am were in the Springboks starting line-up for their 32-12 victory over the Red Rose at International Stadium Yokohama on Saturday.

The trio are set to play under Jones at Twickenham on November 16 along with Herschel Jantjies, who was among the replacements as South Africa claimed the Webb Ellis Cup for a record-equalling third time.

Mapimpi scored his sixth try of the tournament in the final and fell just one short of Wales wing Josh Adams' tournament-leading tally in Japan.

Retiring Ireland captain Rory Best and France centre Mathieu Bastareaud have also been named in the Baa-baas squad for the Killik Cup clash with the Pacific Islanders along

The Barbarians will also face Brazil in Sao Paolo on November 20 and Wales at the Principality Stadium 10 days later.

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