Wales manager Gary Speed relieved after first win

Captain Aaron Ramsey puts Wales ahead against Northern Ireland
Captain Aaron Ramsey puts Wales ahead against Northern Ireland

Wales manager Gary Speed celebrated his first win in charge with a 2-0 victory over Northern Ireland, but said the performance should have been better.

"It was a good result for us and nice to get the win," he said after the Carling Nations Cup match in Dublin.

"We played well in parts but the game was a bit frustrating for us as well.

"We had the ball for long periods of time but at times we got sloppy on it and didn't really do what we wanted. We could have opened up a bit more."

After a dominant and comfortable first half-hour in possession, captain Aaron Ramsey finally made Wales' superiority count when he hammered the ball into the net from 12 yards.

Substitute Robert Earnshaw, who scored in Wednesday's 3-1 defeat against Scotland, doubled the lead 20 minutes from time in front of a crowd of just 529 at the 50,000-seater Aviva Stadium.

"It's always nice when you score for your country so I'm pleased," said Arsenal midfielder Ramsey, who played only the last 30 minutes against Scotland.

"We played some good football, we showed we can create chances and it was important to get the win. We were sloppy in the final stages but we're happy we got the right result.

"We've been together and had a good week's preparation, it's good to get to play with each other more often."

In the pre-match build-up, Speed had questioned the value of the inaugural competition, taking particular umbrage at the fact Wales were asked to play twice in three days.

His view had not softened despite being able to record his first victory in his fourth game at the helm - ensuring Wales did not finish last in the four-nation friendly tournament - but accepted the time spent away with the players in Ireland had been beneficial.

"The best thing is we've been away together for a week," he said. "I can only thank the players because they've shown great commitment.

"It's the easiest thing in the world at the end of the season not to come away. But they've shown their commitment to what we want to do and that will only help us in the long run.

"But we know there's a lot of hard work to be done. Just because we've won one game doesn't mean we're nearly there.

"Between now and next year there's a lot of hard work to be done to move forward and get us in a place to compete.

"We're under no illusions we've still got a lot to do."

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