Wales 1-0 Bulgaria: Neco Williams' first international goal seals late win
Neco Williams' first international goal sealed a stoppage-time win as Wales maintained their perfect Nations League start with a 1-0 victory over Bulgaria at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Liverpool youngster Neco Williams combined with fellow substitute Jonny Williams in the fourth minute of time added, powering a header home with seconds remaining to seal the victory on his home Wales debut.
Wales looked on course for a frustrating draw against a stubborn Bulgarian side but, just as they did in Thursday's Nations League opener in Finland, left it late to snatch three crucial points.
The dramatic late victory sees Wales extend their lead at the top of Group B4, with second-place Republic of Ireland five points adrift ahead of their match with Finland later on Sunday.
How Wales won with a touch of Williams
It took 25 minutes for either side to get a glimpse of goal, with Galin Ivanov's drilled shot deflecting wide off Connor Roberts.
Wales responded on the half-hour mark, with the returning David Brooks combining with Gareth Bale, who saw his driven shot blocked.
Wales registered the first attempt on target shortly before half-time, but Bale's dipping free-kick was comfortably saved by goalkeeper Georgi Georgiev, and Brooks' shanked half-volley brought an underwhelming first period to a close.
The introduction on the hour of Hal Robson-Kanu, who made his first international appearance since October 2017, signalled an upturn in form for Wales, but Daniel James lacked the finish at the end of a promising attack as he shot straight at Georgiev.
Brooks clipped the angle of post and bar before being substituted and, just as Wales looked out of time and ideas, his replacement Jonny Williams whipped in a sumptuous cross that Neco Williams headed home to seal a home debut to remember.
Wales: Hennessey (6), Roberts (6), Lockyer (6), Ampadu (6), Davies (6), Morrell (7), Smith (6), Brooks (7), James (7), Bale (7), Moore (6).
Subs: N. Williams (8), J. Williams (8), Robson-Kanu (7).
Bulgaria: Georgiev (6), Cicinho (7), Dimitrov (7), Nedyalkov (6), Goranov (6), Karabelyov (6), Kostadinov (6), Ivanov (7), Karagaren (6), Kraev (6), Nedelev (6).
Subs: Delev (5), Iliev (5), Krastev (n/a).
Man of the Match: Neco Williams.
'I'll remember this for life' - Williams
Wales matchwinner Neco Williams told Sky Sports: "To be honest, I can't really sum it up at the minute, but I think we made about 25 passes before the goal went in so the build-up to it was the main thing.
"To finish it and especially to get my first goal for my country is a proud moment for me, my family and it'll be a day I'll remember for the rest of my life.
"It's all happened a bit quick to be honest, making my debut and then scoring the first goal for my country. When you're a kid, you dream of playing for your country so to get the opportunity to do what I'm doing now, it's a surreal moment.
"But if I keep working hard, keep showing what I can do then hopefully I'll keep getting my chances and like today, hopefully I'll get some more goals."
What the manager said…
Wales manager Ryan Giggs told Sky Sports: "Neco came on the other night and he was fantastic, and the same tonight. He's got loads of quality, he's got confidence in his ability, and he's brought new energy to the group, and he showed that in focused little cameos in both games.
"I was umming and arring whether to start him today because of the performance he put on the other night, but he came on and not only his goal, but his overall performance was fantastic."
Bulgaria manager Georgi Dermendzhiev: "You have to play until the final whistle, and we weren't concentrated enough. But we had a lot of positives because we had players injured and had to make changes."
Bale: Wales fought to the end
Wales captain Gareth Bale told Sky Sports: "It's fantastic for him [Neco Williams] and fantastic for us.
"We've been working on keeping going, being patient and tonight's game wasn't easy, everyone's fitness levels are at different stages, but we fight to the end like we always do for the shirt and it worked tonight.
"We weren't really good enough in the first half. We were a little bit sloppy and weren't playing the ball quick enough, so we had a chat at half time and we had to pick the pace up and play a bit better."
Opta stats - Wales find a way
- Wales have kept four consecutive clean sheets for the first time since September 2015, when they managed five in a row under Chris Coleman.
- Aged 19 years and 146 days, Neco Williams is the youngest player to score for the Welsh national team since Ben Woodburn in September 2017 (17y 322d v Austria).
- Wales' Gareth Bale has failed to score in consecutive home starts for the first time since October 2014 - prior to this run, he had only failed to net in two of his previous 10 starts on home soil for his country.
- Bulgaria's first shot in this meeting came in the 63rd minute, and was one of their two attempts in the entire game (none on target).