Bale hat-trick fires Wales to 6-0 win in China Cup opener

Updated 2018-03-23 09:25:05 Xinhua

Gareth Bale scored a hat-trick in the China Cup as Wales romped to a 6-0 win over China in Ryan Giggs' first game in charge on Thursday night.

There are 40 FIFA ranking places between Wales and China and it became very clear on the night what that gulf in class looks like on a football pitch.

The match was effectively over when Wales went 2-0 up within the first 21 minutes and if the China Cup was a friendly tournament, no one told Wales.

Bale scored in the second minute and sloppy defending by China led to the second as the Real Madrid forward was aware enough to outmuscle ambling defenders to beat a despairing goalkeeper.

Sam Vokes also scored with an assist from Andy King, but it was a Bale pass that allowed Wales to get into a dangerous position.

Harry Wilson scored to make it 4-0 before half time, but it was again on the back of excellent work by Bale.

Vokes scored again in the 58th minute but the sixth and final goal of the night was scored by Bale before he was substituted to a standing ovation.

If the match reports mention Bale a lot, it's because the Real Madrid forward was everywhere on the night. He scored the goals, made the assists, pressed when he could, and it made it very clear that he was the best player on the pitch. He has also become first Welsh player to reach 29 goals for his country, surpassing the legendary Ian Rush in the process.

Every time he touched the ball, there was an air of anticipation in the stadium rivaled only by China's rare ventures into the Welsh penalty area.

Unfortunately those moments for China were rare on the night. The hosts had one glimpse of joy when substitute Yu Hanchao found some space at the edge of the box after atypically absent-minded Welsh defending. His fizzing shot was tipped onto the bar by goalkeeper Wayne Henessey and Wales were allowed to keep a clean sheet.

For China, their best player on the night was probably Wu Lei. Wu caused Wales problems whenever he moved near the penalty area and he was able to impress with the little possession that came his way.

Ryan Giggs took off most of the dangermen after 70 minutes and there was a clear drop in intensity from Wales as the players seemed content to see the game out as professionally as they could.

China coach Marcello Lippi rang the changes at half time, and coupled with that drop in intensity from Ryan Giggs' side, things settled into a less spectacular pattern.

The China Cup is very important for the city of Nanning and China as it shows that it can attract and stage big sporting events. It's been a credit to the tournament to see a team like Wales take it seriously.

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