Wales player ratings as Real Madrid star Gareth Bale earns an 8 after stunning 30th goal

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Wales and the Republic of Ireland launched their campaigns in the new Nations League at Cardiff City Stadium, with Wales cruising to a 4-1 victory.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at how the players rated.

WALES

Wayne Hennessey: Rarely tested, and could watch in comfort for most of the game as Wales dominated. 6 (out of 10)

Connor Roberts: The Swansea player produced a tireless work-rate and scored a first senior goal, while time and time again running selflessly for his colleagues. 8

Chris Mepham: Fitted well into Wales’ impressive framework as they destroyed Ireland through some majestic first half football. 7

Ashley Williams: Wales’ long-serving captain marshalled his troops well, although they did not need much encouragement to play in such thrilling free-flowing fashion. 7

Ben Davies: Accomplished at the back, and fired a spectacular pass that Gareth Bale gathered without breaking stride for Wales’ memorable second goal. 7

Ethan Ampadu: The 17-year-old performed like a seasoned international, spraying out passes with sustained accuracy. Looks a natural. 9

Joe Allen: Kept things ticking over nicely as part of a Wales midfield unit that enjoyed overwhelming dominance. Calm and assured. 7

Aaron Ramsey: Scored Wales’ third goal with a smart finish after Ampadu sent him clear. Quality contribution. 7

David Brooks: Like Ampadu, he lapped up the occasion, running confidently into space and taking on Ireland’s defenders. Impressive. 7

Tom Lawrence: Dream start with high-class finish for Wales’ early opener, and it set the tone as the home side never looked back. 7

Gareth Bale: Scored his 30th Wales goal with a blistering first-half finish that once again underlined his global box-office status. 8

Substitutes

Matthew Smith (for Ampadu): The Manchester City youngster was given a chance after 66 minutes. 6

Tyler Roberts (for Bale): Entered the action with 16 minutes left, replacing the majestic Bale. 6

Paul Dummett (for Davies): Given a run for the closing stages on his first Wales appearance in almost three years. 6

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France boss Didier Deschamps sad not to see Antoine Griezmann on FIFA Best shortlist

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France coach Didier Deschamps was disappointed to see no Les Bleus players nominated for The Best FIFA Men’s Player award.

Antoine Griezmann was omitted, along with the rest of his World Cup-winning teammates, from the final three nominees for the accolade.

The finalists are Luka Modric, Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah, the same three who made up the podium for UEFA’s award.

And, while Deschamps stopped short of saying any of his squad deserved to win the award, the 49-year-old was keen to highlight Antoine Griezmann’s achievements for club and country.

“I am disappointed,” Deschamps said.

“I won’t say it’s unfair, because that would mean the three others who stay in the race would not deserve it.

“They deserve it, but what I can say is that Antoine and a few other French players would have deserved to be in the list too.

“And, I hope I will not be accused of national chauvinism, but when you consider their achievement with their national team this summer and what they have done with their clubs too, they would deserve it.

“Antoine has won the Europa League, being decisive in final. We need to accept it, votes are coming from everywhere in the world.

“I am disappointed for him and for others, as Antoine was not the only one to deserve it.”

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Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy is determined to grasp latest England chance

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Alex McCarthy is determined to make sure it is third time lucky with England by grabbing this opportunity to impress Gareth Southgate.

Like so many of the Three Lions squad, the 28-year-old had to dig deep and fight to make it onto the international stage.

From loan spells in non-league to long stretches as back-up, McCarthy’s patience, determination and talent are now being rewarded at Southampton.

Having replaced Fraser Forster in December, the goalkeeper played such a key role in saving Saints from relegation that he was voted the club’s player of the season by both fans and team-mates.

Such form has seen McCarthy handed a third England call-up, with Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland and surprise late addition Marcus Bettinelli providing the competition in Southgate’s squad.

“I wouldn’t say it puts more pressure on me,” the Saints goalkeeper said of Bettinelli swelling the goalkeeping ranks on Tuesday.

“I think, at the end of the day, I sort of concentrate on what I’ve got to do.

“Obviously I’ve been called up for a reason and there’s now four of us here, but it’s a time for me to go out there and prove what I can do.

“We’re away for seven or eight days, so it’s enough time to sort of show him what I can do.

“And at the end of the day, I want to give him a decision to make.

“Obviously it’s an unbelievable feeling to be back here.

“I’ve been in two squads before but that was quite a while ago, so obviously after the World Cup and everything that has gone on it’s been a positive for English football.

“It’s nice to be back involved and a part of it.”

Roy Hodgson gave McCarthy a first taste of life with England in May 2013 after impressing at Reading, before he was then surprisingly called into Sam Allardyce’s only squad two years ago following an injury to Forster.

The 28-year-old still remains uncapped, though, and is dreaming of making his debut in either the Nations League opener against Spain or the friendly meeting with Switzerland.

“We have had a positive start to the season (at Southampton) and to get the call-up was the cherry on the top,” McCarthy said.

“Obviously it will be a very proud moment for me and my family.

“When you are growing up as a kid, all you want to do is play football and represent your country.

“If I do get my chance, I know I will take it. I will be overwhelmed.”

It would be quite the occasion for McCarthy, who spent time at the likes of Team Bath and Aldershot during eight loan spells away from Reading.

The 28-year-old failed to make a mark at either QPR or Crystal Palace when he moved on, but fine displays at St Mary’s have provided the platform to join a group that he watched shine at the World Cup.

McCarthy was impressed by England’s displays and is confident that he has the ability on the ball that Southgate likes to see from goalkeepers.

“It’s a part of my game where I feel comfortable,” he added.

“Obviously a lot of managers now like the play to start from the back. It’s an area that I’ve worked on in my game for a while now, so it’d be an area I’d be comfortable in doing.

“I think the way that football is going now, it’s a massive part of the game so you’e got to be able to do that.”

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