Ryan Giggs hails Wales’ character for keeping Euro 2020 hopes alive
Ryan Giggs saluted the character of his Wales team after a 1-1 draw against Croatia kept alive their Euro 2020 qualifying chances.
Gareth Bale’s 33rd goal for his country cancelled out Nikola Vlasic’s ninth-minute strike to keep Wales within touching distance of a top-two spot.
Wins away to Azerbaijan and at home to Hungary next month would secure qualification, as long as Slovakia do not collect more than four points from their last two games.
Slovakia’s next game is in Croatia, where the World Cup finalists will be seeking to book their ticket to next summer’s European Championship.
“We showed character coming back, we didn’t panic,” Wales boss Giggs said after the Cardiff draw.
“We showed commitment, but quality as well. I don’t get a lot of time with them, but what they showed doesn’t surprise me as I see the quality in training.
“We have played two teams, Slovakia and now Croatia, who can hurt you.
“But it’s credit to them, we gave them the information and it’s a step forward.”
Giggs described Daniel James as “streetwise” after the Manchester United winger was clattered by defender Domagoj Vida in the first half.
James received lengthy treatment from medics on the pitch, but he was able to continue and Giggs said the 21-year-old had passed the concussion protocols.
“The physio came over but there was no problem. We did all the (concussion) tests at half-time and he was fine,” Giggs said.
“He stayed down and was a bit streetwise. He told the doctors ‘I’m not moving, I’m just sitting still’.
“Not to get anyone sent off, he was just using his nous.”
Wales will head to Azerbaijan next month without the influential Joe Allen.
The Stoke midfielder collected his third booking of the competition and will be suspended for the Baku clash.
“He knew he was on a booking, but I don’t think he realised there was a player behind him,” Giggs said.
“We will miss his composure but we’ve players who can come in.
“Joe Morrell was fantastic to come on in that situation against Croatia.
“We have to win our last two games but that point could be vital.
“We’re relying on Croatia to beat Slovakia, but we need to win our two games. It won’t be easy.”
Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic was unhappy with Bale’s equaliser after Mateo Kovacic had been left on the turf by Ben Davies’ challenge in first-half stoppage time.
The Chelsea midfielder did not return for the second half but Dalic said: “He seems to be fine.
“But he felt his knee in that challenge so we’ll see in the next few days what the diganosis is.
“Mateo was injured and had to leave the game, but we can’t allow ourselves to concede a goal in this way.
“We are not very happy. It was similar to the games against Hungary.
“We started well and scored, but we didn’t continue in same aggressive way.”