Wales finish with victory.
Toshack's side seal unconvincing Liechtenstein win as Ramsey puts gloss on major problems THEY didn't make it easy on themselves or their manager, but Wales avoided the unthinkable in the Alps.
An early strike from David Vaughan and a late free-kick special from Aaron Ramsey sealed a fourth win of this failed World Cup campaign.
But, summing up one aspect of Wales' performances through this group, a failure to make the most of chances in front of goal made it nervy at times in between.
And it did leave some of the hardy travelling fans to voice their displeasure as Liechtenstein did their best to increase the pressure on John Toshack.
But criticism is nothing new to the veteran manager and he will point to the fact that a 2-0 victory at the hands of a side that have held their own against both Russia and Finland in this tournament should not be downplayed.
Had Jermaine Easter not twice fluffed his big moment in front of goal - or been pulled up for handball when he didn't - or had David Edwards made more of a couple of chances and it would been the big win to inspire everyone again.
But there were other points to warm the freezing fans in the Vaduz shadow of the Alps, one being the display of playmaker Ramsey who grew that much more here.
And there was also a determined and efficient attacking effort from star man Gareth Bale, easing his way back from injury, reminding everyone that there is plenty to look forward to.
Wales need to build on this now, Toshack needing to learn vital lessons of what can get the best of the talent on his hands in the 12 months before the next competitive fixture.
But at least this game again gave food for thought of the options below the main figures, like Vaughan who has made the most of his return to the international scene and who settled early worries with the opener.
The goal, his first for his country, had been coming even at that early stage. And it was little surprise it had come from the left flank with Wales starting with a keen eye to exploit the wings and Bale, starting at left back, was making the most of it.
Not that Wales had had it all their own way before the opener. Liechtenstein had showed their early intention to press and chase when they earned a corner from one of their first attacks.
Striker David Hasler even had the audacity to try his luck 11 minutes in, turning stand-in skipper James Collins when the ball was played to his feet with back to goal and his shot needed a decent parry from Myhill.
Warning served. And clearly noted by the white-shirted Welsh with Vaughan's effort coming from the next attack of note. Although Bale took the assist, Ramsey's involvement was key.
Toshack had talked about resting his playmaker because of his lack of Arsenal game-time, but the temptation to use his most creative player was too tempting.
The minnows were not daunted by the task in players in front of them, nor the task. And it wasn't simply grit and graft from Liechtenstein, the hosts producing some neat passing when the space was afforded them. Which was often.
Lucas Eberle illustrated the kind of ambition in the side when he was prepared to shoot from distance on 30 minutes, sailing over Boaz Myhill's goal but at least keeping Wayne Hennessey's replacement alert.
Wales did shake into life once more as the end of the half neared, Ramsey turning defence into attack with a basic but effective ball over the top. It was enough for the strong Easter to shrug off a marker and bear down on goal with a chance of a comforting second 39 minutes in.
But, with just Peter Jehle to beat, the MK Dons call-up couldn't steer the ball past the home goalkeeper, just as David Edwards was unable to get to the near post to convert another Bale cross soon after.
And how Wales could have paid as moments later Ronny Buchel's ball to Hasler left the USV Eschen man with a superb scoring chance at Myhill's front post - only to hit it wide.
When the likes of Ramsey did look up, the options in front of him were limited, even if one delightful chip came close to putting Church in behind.
Bale was doing more than most to inject some urgency and enterprise into things, finally getting back down the wing and drilling a cross that smashed off Easter's hand and into the net on 67 minutes - Estonia official Kaldma Sen spotting the foul.
With ten minutes remaining it was the chance Ramsey had waited for - and he took it with some style as he curled it right-footed into the top corner to end the nerves and at least end the campaign on a high. Whether it ends some supporters' feelings at Toshack is another thing. MAN OF THE MATCH: Gareth Bale - again shone for Wales throughout
Jermaine Easter holds off Lucas Eberle in Vaduz last night and (inset) Eberle tussles with Simon Church Wales striker Jermaine Easter is chased by Liechtenstein's Yves Oehri (top) captain James Collins and Gareth Bale congratulate Aaron Ramsey on his goal (right) and defender Chris Gunter takes on Lucas Eberle (left)
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|Publication:||Daily Post (Liverpool, England)|
|Date:||Oct 15, 2009|
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