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Watch: Lewis Koumas scores sublime winner in Wales U21s victory

22 Mar 2024 4 minute read
Wales’ Lewis Koumas celebrates after scoring the second goal during the UEFA Euro U21 Championship Group I match at Rodney Parade, Newport. Credit: David Davies/PA Wire

Substitute Lewis Koumas claimed a debut winner as Wales Under-21s came from behind to beat Lithuania 2-1 and move top of Group I in qualifying for next year’s European Championship.

With senior national team manager Rob Page watching from the stands at Rodney Parade in Newport, the hosts fell behind to a 12th-minute finish from Motiejus Burba.

Wales levelled just three minutes later when Cardiff’s Rubin Colwill slotted home after working his way into the box from the left corner of the visitors’ 18-yard box.

With time ticking away, 18-year-old Liverpool player Koumas – the son of former Wales midfielder Jason Koumas – delightfully bent home a decisive first-time finish in the 77th minute following fine play from Colwill.

Victory for Matt Jones’ men lifts them three points above second-placed Denmark, albeit having played two matches more, while Iceland in third are five points adrift with three games in hand.

Earlier in the week Wales had said they were confident Koumas will continue to play for them on the international stage and not change his allegiance to England. His evident joy at his debut goal for the U21s this evening followed by him kissing the Wales badge, would have thrilled everybody.

Dual-qualified Koumas had been promoted to the Wales Under-21 set-up after being capped at U19 level and breaking in to the first-team picture at Liverpool.

The 18-year-old was an unused substitute in Liverpool’s Carabao Cup final victory over Chelsea and scored on his senior debut in the 3-0 FA Cup defeat of Southampton at Anfield last month.

Wales’ Lewis Koumas in action during the UEFA Euro U21 Championship Group I match at Rodney Parade, Newport. Credit: David Davies/PA Wire

Koumas’ father Jason was a full Wales international, winning 34 caps between 2001 and 2009 while playing for West Brom, Cardiff and Wigan.

But Koumas was born in Chester and Wales U21 coach Matty Jones said in October that England were “aggressively pursuing” the teenager.

“Absolutely. I’ve always got confidence with our young Welsh lads because when they initially have those experiences (being selected for age-group teams), they connect,” Jones said when asked if he was confident that Koumas would fully commit to Wales.

“The relationships we build, the due diligence we’ve done over the last six to eight weeks. I’ve had four visits to Liverpool and monitored Lewis’ performance.

“I’ve sat and had lunch with him, getting to understand him as a human being.

“To know how to best manage him, what makes him tick and also his threats and abilities he can pose for us as a team.

“The feedback from (manager) Rob Edwards with the exposure he’s had from the 19s has helped us as well.

“All that accumulates into one big package where he can hopefully come in with us and flourish.

“The opportunity is there but let’s not ignore the fact this squad is currently doing really well and there will be competition to get a place in the team.”

Wales manager Rob Page has resisted the temptation to invite Koumas into his full squad for now, although the proximity of training for the seniors and U21s at Hensol means the Liverpool youngster could soon be spending time with Aaron Ramsey and company.

Jones said: “Lewis is a very ambitious young player and there’s no surprise why he’s excelling.

“The taste he’s had of senior exposure – he’s trained quite regularly with the first-team – has elevated him.

“They’ve taken a liking to him, everyone I’ve spoken to at Liverpool loves his self-confidence and his ability to drive at people and run.

“He’s developing on a daily basis, but the big thing is he can’t wait to come in.

“He’ll be joining us late after the Manchester United-Liverpool game on Sunday, but we couldn’t be in a better place.

“Hopefully there’ll be game time for him and an opportunity to show us what he’s about.”

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3 months ago

Players shouldn’t feel the need to choose England over Wales anymore as we have shown we can qualify for tournaments, as longs as the players give 100%, as we all know they have the ability.

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