Rhian Wilkinson celebrates opening game win as Wales ease past Croatia in Wrexham

Wales celebrate after beating Croatia in opening Women’s Euro 2025 qualifier in Wrexham. Credit: PA Images

Wales Women celebrate 4-0 victory against Croatia at the STōK Cae Ras in Wrexham.

The match marked Rhian Wilkinson’s first game in charge since being appointed head coach in February.

Jess Fishlock bagged a brace to move within two of Helen Ward’s record 44-goal tally before Rachel Rowe and Angharad James added gloss to a comfortable 4-0 win.

Wales had not played at Wrexham’s Stok Racecourse since March 2020 and new boss Wilkinson, the former Canada defender and England and Team GB assistant coach, was determined to make a winning start.

Wilkinson had not hesitated in outlining her ambition after succeeding Gemma Grainger following her shock departure to manage Norway – leading Wales to a first major tournament.

Angharad James (left) celebrates with team mate Gemma Evans scoring their side's fourth goal of the game. Credit: PA Images

Rowe went close from 20 yards before Wales made the perfect start after four minutes.

The Rangers livewire drove towards the penalty area and slipped in Fishlock, who punished untidy defending with a cool sidefoot finish.

It was Fishlock’s 41st Wales goal and drew her level with Gareth Bale’s international tally – but the 37-year-old would move beyond that mark four minutes into the second period.

Rowe was Wales’ most dangerous player with her sniping runs constantly troubling Croatia’s packed defence.

With the visitors showing little – if any – attacking intent, Wales completely dominated opponents 27 places below them in the FIFA rankings.

Croatia captain Doris Bacic fielded a Fishlock shot straight at her and reacted well to smother Elise Hughes’ effort with her legs.

Hughes headed Hayley Ladd’s cross over at the far post, but Wales were out of sight within 11 minutes of the restart following a quickfire treble.

Fishlock grabbed her second after controlling Gemma Evans’ pass on her chest and lifting the ball over Bacic.

The ball eluded two backtracking defenders and came back off the crossbar for the alert Fishlock to nod home.

The match marked Rhian Wilkinson's first game in charge.

Rowe slotted the ball home two minutes later after James won possession and Fishlock had set her up with an intelligent square pass.Evans claimed a second assist with another pinpoint diagonal pass as James slid in to score from a difficult angle.

Ceri Holland almost provided a spectacular conclusion by striking the frame of the goal from 25 yards and fellow substitutes Lois Joel and Mary McAteer were denied by Bacic.

Cymru will next travel to Kosovo for their second fixture on Tuesday 9 April at the Zahir Pajaziti Stadium in Podujevo.

Cymru’s two other home qualifiers will take place at Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli against Ukraine on Friday 31 May and Kosovo for the final match of the campaign on Tuesday 16 July.

Cymru last played at Parc y Scarlets for three matches in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifiers, with attendances more than doubling between the first and third match, peaking at more than 4,000.

UEFA Women's EURO 2025, the 14th edition of the tournament, will be held in Switzerland next summer.

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