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Wales started their UEFA Under-19 qualifying tournament with a comprehensive defeat to an impressive Azerbaijan side at Park Hall on Tuesday lunchtime.
Azerbaijan, and in particular striker Yaiza Relea, showed their attacking intentions early when Relea latched onto a cross-field ball from Kristina Bakarandze but was denied by the crossbar on 12 minutes. Relea then tested Wales goalkeeper Charlotte Edmunds from distance with a free kick five minutes later.
However, Wales would take the lead through Ceri Holland on 22 minutes when she capitalised on a mistake from Azerbaijan captain and goalkeeper Aytaj Sharifova to slot the ball into an empty net. But within two minutes, the visitors were level, as Relea turned provider after Edmunds could only parry her effort into the path of Bakarandze to equalise from close range.
On 34 minutes, Azerbaijan took the lead as a superb through ball from Aysun Aliyeva, booked earlier in the match for a foul on Wales captain Charlotte Estcourt, split the Wales defence and allowed Relea the time and space to finish. The lead could have been extended before the break when Relea again found herself in space but the crossbar again came between her and a goal celebration.
Wales made two changes at half-time as Aleisha Cruwys replaced Ffion Llewellyn in defence and Laura Mitchell was brought in place of Katy Hosford to offer Jayne Ludlow's side an alternative option in attack. However, it was Azerbaijan who looked the more likely to increase their goal tally and on 52 minutes Charlotte Edmunds was again called into action to deny Nigar Jalilli and Bakarandze.
On 62 minutes Jalilli increased Azerbaijan's lead as Relea again turned provider, and having been denied by Edmunds from long-range on 69 minutes, it was Relea who scored her second of the game on 72 minutes when she combined with Jalilli to complete the scoring.
Wales: Charlotte Edmunds, Laurie Edwards, Niamh Tinman, Charlie Estcourt, Fiona Dodge, Ffion Llewellyn (sub Aleisha Cruwys 45mins), Lois Regan (sub Jenni Buckley 58mins), Chelsea Jumratie, Ceri Holland, Katy Hosford (sub Laura Mitchell 45mins), Liberty Piggott. Subs not used: Jodie Buck, Hannah Miles, Olivia Fuller, Ffion Price.
(Report by www.faw.org.uk)
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