Joe Allen believes history could repeat itself as Wales get lucky Euro 2020 break

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Joe Allen believes history could repeat itself as Wales seek to make the most of a lucky break in Euro 2020 qualification.

There were strong parallels between Gareth Bale’s header against Azerbaijan on Friday and the Real Madrid forward’s free-kick in Andorra five years ago.

Both of Bale’s winners came during the final 10 minutes and spared Wales huge embarrassment against two of the whipping boys of international football.

It remains to be seen whether Bale’s close-ranger header in the 2-1 home win over Azerbaijan – which came after a bizarre own goal had gifted Wales a half-time lead – has the same importance as that strike in Andorra.

His twice-taken free-kick set Wales on the road to the 2016 European Championship – their first major tournament in 58 years – and they would eventually reach the semi-finals in France.

Asked whether the Azerbaijan win had reminded him of the Andorra game, Allen said: “It did. That’s the feeling I’ve got. Maybe it’s the swing in terms of momentum, and that little bit of luck as well.

“Look at the campaign we qualified in and we rode our luck at times. Hopefully it’s a good sign of what’s to come.”

Wales trail group leaders Croatia and Hungary by three points at the halfway stage of qualifying, and are level with Slovakia in the race for a top-two spot.

Ryan Giggs’ side are in friendly action against Belarus in Cardiff on Monday, but will be paying close attention to the qualifiers between Azerbaijan and Croatia and Hungary and Slovakia.

“Who knows what we will need (to qualify),” Allen said after Wales had bounced back from June defeats in Croatia and Hungary.

“The summer was a big blow to our chances, we have never had that doubt that we can still qualify as long as we up things and improve.

“It wasn’t free-flowing football or a comfortable win, but we got the three points and that’s the main thing.

“This good result will help us going to Slovakia, and we are trying to focus on doing our job right.

Bale scored the winner minutes from the end to revive Wales' qualification campaign.

Bale scored the winner minutes from the end to revive Wales’ qualification campaign.

“If we can win our home games and go on the road and get the results we need, then that will be enough.”

Some Wales fans took to social media to vent their frustration at Giggs, who was appointed in January 2018 and has had a mixed 20 months in charge.

Despite having an array of attacking talent at his disposal, and Bale seemingly back to his best after returning to favour at Real, Giggs has yet to fit those exciting forwards into a cohesive team structure.

“The lads haven’t performed to their best but they have delivered for him,” Allen said.

“You need reminders in different ways and we were certainly given that. Hopefully this can be that little bit of momentum we can take forward now.”

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Harry Kane only focused on improving after moving ahead of Geoff Hurst with England hat-trick

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Harry Kane wants to keep banging in the goals that can help England win a major tournament after moving ahead of Geoff Hurst in the list of the country’s goalscorers.

The Tottenham striker scored a hat-trick in the Three Lions’ 4-0 Euro 2020 qualifier victory against Bulgaria at Wembley to take him to 25 goals in 40 games – one ahead of the World Cup winner.

If he were to carry that strike rate on the 26-year-old would obliterate Wayne Rooney’s record of 53 England goals, and his insatiable desire for scoring is not about to stop any time soon.

“Hopefully I can keep scoring goals for many years to come,” he said.

“Obviously whenever I put an England shirt on, it’s always to try and score and help the team.

“Whenever stuff like that (passing Geoff Hurst’s tally) happens it’s always a proud moment for me and it shows that the hard work I’m putting in is paying off.

“But as you know with me by now, it’s always to carry on and keep getting better, scoring more goals and hopefully I can score goals for England for many years to come.

“It’s down to hard work and making sure I keep doing what I’m doing in training, and as a team I know the boys will create chances so I have to be ready for it.”

Kane’s goals helped England to another handsome win in qualifying, which makes their participation in next summer’s European Championships all-but certain.

They will be among the favourites to lift the trophy on home soil next summer and Kane wants his goals to count for something.

“That’s always the aim, that’s always what you’re going to be judged on come the end of your career,” he said.

“Of course it’s great to get goals and individual stuff but the most important thing is winning team trophies and obviously England haven’t done that for a long time now.

“So that’s my goal as captain and I know all the boys want to win and want to win tournaments, but we’ve sat here and spoke about it for the last 10, 15, 20 years and longer and it hasn’t happened.

“So we had a little taste of success in the World Cup, obviously we didn’t get to where we wanted to go, but we have to use that as motivation to go all the way at the Euros.

“We’re going to hopefully have a few games here at Wembley and we really have to use that atmosphere and use it to our advantage.”

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Didier Deschamps offers apology as Kingsley Coman takes centre stage in France win

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Goalscorers Giroud and Coman celebrate.

France coach Didier Deschamps offered a public apology after the wrong national anthem was played for opponents Albania before kick-off in Paris.

A mix-up saw the national anthem of Andorra played by mistake, resulting in a seven-minute delay as Albania would not start the match without the error being rectified.

“I apologised to the bench and the coach,” Deschamps told a press conference.

“It’s something that should not happen, but it happened. I understand the position of the Albanians and it is logical that we waited until the Albanians could have their anthem before that match.”

Once the Euro 2020 qualifier started, France eased to a 4-1 victory that keeps the world champions top of Group H on goal difference.

With Kylian Mbappe and Paul Pogba missing from the side, Bayern Munich winger Kingsley Coman took centre stage with two goals.

“When you have a Kingsley Coman in this form, it’s hard to stop him,” Deschamps said.

“It’s been a while since he’s been with us. He has always had his qualities but he is more decisive and effective.

“When he is like that, it’s hard for his opponents. It’s nice to see him on such a level.”

Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud and debutant Jonathan Ikone were the other scorers before goalkeeper Hugo Lloris conceded a late penalty which was converted by Sokol Cikalleshi.

Deschamps believes his side have improved from their last round of qualifiers and he is looking for them to further strengthen their position against minnows Andorra on Tuesday.

“There were a lot of very good things tonight. But we could have been more efficient,” he added.

“From the start of the second half we lacked the finish on some beautiful moves.

“We did the right thing, even though we relaxed at the end. It’s rare that we made a match with so many passes, I think over 900 – and not just easy passes.

“There is a lot of cohesion, something we did not have a few months back.”

His side may only be a year on from winning the World Cup but Deschamps is looking to the future and believes Ikone could play a significant part.

“That’s also my role. It’s about incorporating young people, looking to the future, and when there is quality they will have game time,” he said.

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