China humiliated by Gareth Bale-inspired Wales as World Cup dreams are put in stark relief

Ryan Giggs cruises through first game as national manager after starting his star man

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 March, 2018, 9:44pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 March, 2018, 5:45pm

The clock had stopped at 7pm next to the giant screen at the Guangxi Sports Centre in Nanning and China’s players will have wished time had stood still at that point.

Just over half an hour later Gareth Bale, selected in new boss Ryan Giggs’ first starting 11 as Wales manager, had opened the scoring.

Bale’s every touch had been cheered by the time he broke the deadlock two minutes in and the 36,543 who had come to see the Real Madrid star were not disappointed from his performance.

By the time he was subbed off in the second half he had scored the first hat trick of the Giggs era – a feat his cross had offered the opportunity for striker Sam Vokes to pop him to.

As it was, the pair had done enough with five between them plus a standout strike from Harry Wilson. The hosts, humiliated on home turf 6-0, offered little resistance to the Welsh in the China Cup.

Marcello Lippi has worked wonders so far with the players at his disposal but this opening game of the China Cup pointed out their frailties in facing such ambitious opponents.

Bale is one of the world’s best and the standard of player that Chinese footballers don’t get to play against domestically or internationally. It’s still sobering to think that even with him in the side the Welsh team could not make it to the World Cup.

As long as qualifying for the World Cup remains China’s dream it’s going to remain a frustrating period for Chinese football.

They will hope to salvage some pride in their third place play-off game on Monday, when they face the loser of Friday’s Czech Republic v Uruguay. Wales, who meet the winner, will hope to lift the first silverware under Giggs.