Wales began their bid to reach the 2019 World Cup with a narrow 1-0 win away to Kazakhstan.
Jess Fishlock scored the winner ten minutes into the second half, capitalising on a poor punch from goalkeeper Oksana Zheleznyak before volleying the ball into an empty net from just outside the box, reports faw.cymru.
The victory extended Wales’ fine recent form in qualifying matches, with Jayne Ludlow’s side having lost just once in their last seven competitive fixtures.
But the scoreline could have been greater as the visitors dominated for long periods at the Astana Arena, creating several good opportunities before securing victory.
Wales were without record scorer Helen Ward – who missed the game after recently giving birth – but Jess Fishlock returned after missing summer friendlies against Portugal and Netherlands through injury.
However, they started the game on the front foot as both Kayleigh Green and Fishlock went close in the opening 20 minutes.
But they found Zheleznyak in good form, as the Kazakhstan stopper saved on two occasions, while at the other end the home side had a rare sight of goal when captain Begaim Kirgizbayeva forced a save from Laura O’Sullivan.
Wales finished the half strongly, however, as Rhiannon Roberts fired over inside the box and Green headed wide at the near post after good work from Fishlock.
Despite a goalless first period, it was the way that the visitors started the second half that eventually paved the way for victory.
With 10 minutes played, a corner from the left wasn’t properly cleared by the goalkeeper and as the ball fell to Fishlock just outside the box, the midfielder produced a sublime piece of skill to volley the ball back over the stranded group of players and into the net.
Again, the dominance in possession followed as Wales sought a second goal that would have ensured a far less frantic finale, as Kirgizbayeva went close to drawing the hosts level when her 25-yard effort just evaded the top corner.
But Ludlow’s side held out to seal their first victory in qualifying ahead of next month’s trip to Russia.
KAZAKHSTAN: Zheleznyak, Gaistenova, Nurusheva, Khojasheva, Kirgizbayeva (c), Krassyukova, Vyldanova, Bortnikova, Nikolayenko, Babshuk, Zhumabaikyzy.
WALES: O’Sullivan, Dykes, Gemma Evans, Ingle (c), Roberts (Estcourt, ht), Harding, James, Green, Fishlock, Rowe, Ladd.
Photo – kff.kz