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Women's Football News
Wales 5 (Lea 4,38,69, Atkins 52,90)
Luxembourg 1 (Thompson 19)
Amie Lea became the first Wales senior international to score a hat-trick on her debut as a much changed side cruised to a 5-1 victory over Luxembourg at Afan Lido.
Wales manager Jarmo Matikainen, whose squad was missing its FA WSL players, fielded an experimental line up which included three debutants and defender Kerrie Manley, the most experienced player winning her 27th cap, captained her country for the first time.
Despite their inexperienced team, Wales got off to the perfect start as Lea nipped in to give them the lead after just four minutes. However just before the twenty minute mark, some sloppy defending allowed Amy Thompson in to grab an equaliser.
Wales were finding it a little difficult to impose themselves at this stage but a tactical change saw Nia Jones pushed into midfield and they took the game over from this stage. Natasha Harding was unlucky not to score with a header which flew inches over from a Sophie Ingle free kick but the second goal was not long in coming.
Lea, playing on the right hand side up front, was fed by Shan Jones and carried the ball to the edge of the area where she drilled a low shot beyond the dive of Nathalie Thill and into the corner of the net for her second goal.
Harding was having an impressive debut up front and again went close following a good turn which took her past her marker but her shot was at full stretch and went over the bar. Shan Jones was then unfortunate not to get on the scoresheet as she chased a pass from Nia Jones and poked the ball past the oncoming Thill but could not catch it in time before it crossed the goal line.
The second half was a one-sided affair as a confident Wales side sought more goals. Teenage striker Zoe Atkins was introduced as a half time substitute and she took just seven minutes to join Lea on the scoresheet. An Erin Vaughan corner was met by Ingle whose header was blocked and Atkins was left with the simple task of nodding in from point blank range.
Wales continued to play some neat football with Eleri Earnshaw showing some good touches and Nia Jones commanding in the centre. They had to wait until the 69th minute for the fourth goal but it well worth the wait.
Another Vaughan corner was half cleared by the Luxembourg defence to the edge of the area where Lea met the ball with a sweetly struck volley which rocketed past a helpless Thill to complete her hat-trick in spectacular fashion.
Earnshaw brought out a near post save from Thill after being found by Sally Wade and Nia Jones also had a shot saved as Welsh domination continued. Even a series of substitutions did not disrupt their flow of play, Laura May Walkley making an immediate impact by finding Nia Jones on the left, her cross was turned just wide at the near post by Atkins.
Gina Goulding was denied by a smothering save from Thill following another good ball from Nia Jones and Milly Durrant could not quite bundle the ball in from a corner but Wales were to crown their win with a fifth goal in injury time.
Goulding sent over a cross from the right which was just too high for Durrant, however Nia Jones retrieved the ball and found Durrant whose cross was headed in from close range by Atkins for her second goal.
Wales: Rhian Nokes (sub Sophie Dando 85mins), Erin Vaughan (sub Tija Richardson 82mins), Sally Wade, Kerrie Manley, Nia Jones, Natalie Ashford (sub Fran Howells 38mins), Amie Lea (sub Gina Goulding 82mins), Sophie Ingle, Shan Jones (sub Zoe Atkins 45mins), Natasha Harding (sub Laura May Walkley 77mins), Eleri Earnshaw (sub Milly Durrant 80mins).
Luxembourg: Nathalie Thill, Noemie Raths, Sonia Tremont, Romy Gruber, Rose Settanni, Rachel Bettmer, Jessica Birkel, Pascale Frising (sub Stefania Falasca 77mins), Bianca Schmitz (sub Noemie Tiberi 87mins), Amy Thompson, Sarah Olivieri (sub Mandy Charlet 64mins). Subs not used: Catherine Scholtes, Lynn Weiss, Catherine Keipes.
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