Gareth Bale's goal on the stroke of half-time gave Wales a closing 1-0 win against Bulgaria in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying.
Occupying the bottom two places at kick-off in Group G, both teams were playing for pride in Sofia. Bale crowned a fine individual display by scoring the winner, which consolidated Wales' fourth place in the section, one above Bulgaria.
It was Wales, fresh from last Friday's win over Switzerland, who started with more urgency, Craig Bellamy working an early opening before firing straight at Nikolay Mihaylov. Bulgaria, under caretaker coach Mihail Madanski following Lothar Matthäus's departure last month, took some time to stir before threatening through a jinking Ivelin Popov run. Alexandar Tonev then went close with a low drive, but two minutes later the hosts were behind.
Bale picked up Chris Gunter's ball down the line, darted inside, and his low shot clipped Ivan Ivanov to wrong-foot Mihaylov and creep in. Wales stepped up the pace after the break, Bellamy skewing over when well placed and then curling wide. Bale smashed a volley against the underside of the bar after clever link-up play with Aaron Ramsey before substitute Valeri Bozhinov missed a late chance to level matters.
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