Ben Woodburn: Wales manager Chris Coleman praises striker

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Ben Woodburn: Debut Wales winner 'a dream come true'
2018 World Cup qualifiers: Moldova v Wales
Date: Tuesday, 5 September Venue: Stadionul Zimbru, Chisinau Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

Striker Ben Woodburn can become a great player, says Wales manager Chris Coleman after the substitute scored on his debut in the 1-0 World Cup qualifying win over Austria.

Woodburn, 17, struck the winner with a 20-yard shot four minutes after coming on, boosting Wales' chances in Group D.

Coleman was wary of comparing him to Welsh stars Gareth Bale and Ryan Giggs.

But he said: "I know his strike was fantastic but his all-round composure was great too."

"He has all the attributes to go on to be a great player," added the Wales boss.

"He's made a good start. With young players I would not like to say.

"Good examples are George Williams and Jon Williams, they're still young and have to play a lot of football.

"I know how tough the industry is. Ben knows how much work he has to get through."

Wales needed a win to maintain a realistic prospect of qualifying, and after Saturday's result they remain four points off leaders Serbia in third.

But Austria made Coleman's side work for the victory and they went into half-time 0-0.

Then, on 74 minutes, the Liverpool forward controlled a loose ball five yards outside the Austrian penalty area, taking another touch before driving a fabulous shot past a stretching Heinz Lindner at his near post.

"The ball came out of the air and I took it down and tried to get it out my feet as quick as I could, and then luckily when I hit it it went in," Woodburn said.

"I do like to do a few shots at the end of training, so thankfully it paid off.

"The manager said to me before I went on to enjoy myself and help the team as best as I could, and hopefully I did that.

"That was what was running through my mind when I came on... it was just a dream come true."

Real Madrid forward Bale added: "We won't let him sleep tonight."

Bale is the youngest goalscorer in Wales history. He was 17 years and 35 days on 7 October, 2006 against Slovakia.

Gareth Bale celebrates with Ben Woodburn
Gareth Bale celebrates Wales' winner with Ben Woodburn

Woodburn is second on that list at 17 years and 322 days.

Bale almost made it 2-0 in injury time with an overhead scissor kick and substitute Hal Robson-Kanu also came close at the end.

"It was a make-or-break game - we've had it in the past and the most important was the three points here," added Bale.

"It was just grit and determination. We were off the pace in the first half, but we came out after and you saw the dragon on the shirts again."

Debuts 'don't come tougher than that'

Chris Coleman
Chris Coleman guided Wales into the Euro 2016 semi-finals

Coleman praised Woodburn, saying: "It was a great game for Ben Woodburn to make his debut in - they don't come tougher than that.

"It is one of those nights to remember. It was a great way to win the game.

"Ben is young but we have seen enough. This is not a player we have just discovered, we have had him for some years."

Coleman added: "I just told Ben to express himself in the last third and he knew all about his defensive duties.

On Tuesday Wales travel to Moldova (kick-off 19:45 BST) and Coleman wants a repeat of his side's second half performance against Austria.

"The players have been immense - they knew they had more to give in the second half and they did that in bundles."


Former Wales and Liverpool striker Ian Rush on BBC Radio 5 live's Sportsweek

I've been working with Ben since he was 14 years old and he has an amazing attitude, he keeps his feet on the ground.

Playing with with the likes of [Arsenal midfielder] Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale I think he is now realising what the world is all about.

He has taken his chance but he has to be patient again because things don't happen overnight. He must realise he probably won't start on Tuesday [against Moldova] but if he comes on he will do a job.

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