Baku can assume its place alongside Bordeaux, Toulouse, Paris and Lille in Welsh hearts. A fabulous win should assume famous proportions as it puts Wales on the brink of another sortie into the knockout stages of the European Championships and leaves Turkey at risk of an early exit.
A team tipped as dark horses have instead been disappointments so far while Wales seem intent on rewinding the clock to Euro 2016. Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, the faces of their surge then, provided the inspiration again. Ramsey scored the opener and Bale set up both goals, with Connor Roberts sealing victory in the 95th minute, Wales, who were superb, now have four points.
Each spurned chances but their afternoons were still glorious successes. Bale mustered everything but the goal as his drought in his country’s colours extended into a 13th game but he earned two assists. He won a penalty, when caught by Zeki Celik, only to sky it. He almost scored a minute later, charging down goalkeeper Ugurcan Cakir’s clearance and seeing his block fly agonisingly close. Redemption for the wayward spot kick came in injury time when his solo run led to the right-back Roberts slotting home.
Bale was a history maker, the first Wales player to assist at two major championships and Ramsey another, the first two score at two; five years ago, Ramsey tended to supply Bale but the breakthrough was a role reversal Wales could enjoy.
Named in the team of the tournament in 2016 – and Wales can still wonder what might have happened were he not suspended for the semi-final – Ramsey was altogether quieter in the opener against Switzerland. But caretaker manager Robert Page's 4-2-3-1 formation was designed with him in mind. Wales retained the same shape and personnel from Saturday but produced a much more dominant performance. Ramsey was terrific.
Few midfielders get into goalscoring positions as often and the master of late runs made it third time lucky as Wales’ resident superstars kept combining. Twice Ramsey sprang Turkey’s offside trap and twice Bale pierced their defence with passes. Yet Cakir made a fine save from the midfielder’s first shot; his second was blazed over the bar.
There were two marked differences with the Juventus man’s third opportunity: the Real Madrid winger took the aerial route, chipping a pass over Turkey’s back four, and, more importantly, Ramsey delivered the finish, angling a shot in.
Ramsey had a second-half shot saved – Roberts was the provider this time – and Bale a header repelled by Cakir while Wales prospered because of a front four with very different attributes. Daniel James lent searing pace and a willingness to run at Turkey, Kieffer Moore a huge presence.
He headed a James cross over the bar while Caglar Soyuncu was twice required to come to Turkey’s rescue, blocking from Moore and making a last-ditch challenge on Bale.
Wales' menacing attacking was allied with defiant defending – including a brilliant Ramsey challenge in his own box – which was made all the more significant while they lacked a second goal. If the thought was that Turkey had to improve after Friday's 3-0 defeat to Italy, Senol Gunes' dissatisfaction with the first-half performance was apparent in a double substitution.
Before then, Turkey’s only real threat stemmed from set-pieces but Joe Morrell was required to make two goal-line clearances in as many minutes, denying first Kaan Ayhan and then Soyuncu. From second-half corners, the veteran Burak Yilmaz volleyed over and Danny Ward made a wonderful save from Merih Demiral’s header.
Until Roberts struck, it made for a tense ending, Baku’s proximity to Turkey rendering it almost a home game for Gunes’ side. It rendered Wales’ win all the better.