Green gets brace as Wales again lead group

Wales Women’s Natasha Harding (left) celebrates scoring her side’s third goal of the game with Kayleigh Green (second left), Angharad James (second right) and Jessica Fishlock during the FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifying Group One match at Newport Stadium, Newport. (PA Images)

Wales scored three second half goals in defeating Russia at Spytty Park in Newport, to set up a potential World Cup Qualifying Group 1 decider with England at the end of August.

Sophie Ingle intercepted as Nelli Korovkina set herself for a close-range strike but it was Wales who had the first chance in the 18th minute, Helen Ward firing over the crossbar from inside the 18-yard box.

A persistent Rachel Rowe thwarted a threat from the visitors and a few minutes later Natasha Harding sent the hosts second shot over the top, as Wales had the best of few chances in the first half.

Elena Danilova turned to fire wide of the near post, before becoming involved in a heated exchange after bringing down Jess Fishlock from behind.

Rowe won possession 35 yards out but her snapshot was straight at goalkeeper Elvira Todua and Kayleigh Green turned to shoot on the edge of the box but it was charged down by Anna Belomyttseva.

The closest to a goal in the opening 45 minutes came when Ward had a shot blocked and Green put the loose ball back across the box for Harding but her strike found another Russian body.

Green’s cross late in the half brought a penalty appeal but without success.

However, the deadlock was broken less than 3 minutes after the restart, Green netting from close range at the second attempt after Rowe put the ball across the six yard box.

A Fishlock volley was turned wide of the goal by Todua, before at the other end Harding came to the rescue when Laura O’Sullivan and Loren Dykes collided.

Green capped a fine move to double the lead on 62 minutes, chipping the keeper after exchanging passes with Ward.

It was 3-0 not long after, Harding slotting home after Todua saved her initial effort and Green might have had her hat-trick but got under the ball.

Wales Women’s Natasha Harding celebrates scoring her side’s third goal of the game during the FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifying Group One match at Newport Stadium, Newport. (PA Images)

Ekaterina Pantyukhina had the ball in the net for Russia with 5 minutes left but the consolation was ruled out for offside.

Green broke away late on and her firm strike was well saved by Todua.

Wales now lead the group by one point from England, whom they host (at a venue to be confirmed on 31 August), before the Lionesses go to Kazakhstan on 4 September.

Wales: 1 Laura O’Sullivan, 2 Loren Dykes, 4 Sophie Ingle (C), 5 Rhiannon Roberts, 7 Natasha Harding, 8 Angharad James, 9 Kayleigh Green (16 Kylie Nolan, 91mins), 10 Jessica Fishlock, 13 Rachel Rowe, 14 Hayley Ladd, 20 Helen Ward (11 Nadia Lawrence, 85mins)

Unused Subs: 13 Claire Skinner, 6 Alice Griffiths, 15 Elise Hughes, 19 Hannah Miles, 3 Gemma Evans

Russia: 1 Elvira Todua, 2 Anastasiya Akimova (8 Alsu Abdullina, 32mins), 3 Anna Kohnikova(C), 10 Nadezhda Smirnova, 13 Anna Belomyttseva, 15 Elena Danilova, 16 Lipa Yakupova, 17 Ekaterina Pantyukhina, 18 Elvira Ziyastinova, 22 Nelli Korovkina, 23 Elena Morozova (20 Margarita Chernomyrdina, 58mins)

Unused subs: 21 Yulia Grichenko, 5 Ekaterina Bratko, 7 Irina Podshibyakina, 11 Ekaterina Sochneva, 19 Nadezhda Koltakova