Daniel James shines as Wales kickstarts World Cup qualifying campaign

Daniel James's fourth international goal earned Wales a 1-0 victory and its first points of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign after two matches.

Speaking about the first headed goal of his professional career, Daniel James said: "I don't remember another header I've scored. I was due a header. It’s about getting in the right positions."   -  Getty Images

Daniel James can threaten opposition defences with his raw electric pace and inch-perfect crosses but few expected the diminutive Welsh forward to settle a game with a towering header on Tuesday.

Wales captain Gareth Bale exploited the space on the left flank before whipping in a floating cross in the box for James, who rose above the Czech Republic defence to bury an 81st minute header past goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik.

It was James's fourth international goal - and the first headed goal of his professional career - that earned Wales a 1-0 victory and its first points of the 2022 World Cup qualification campaign after two matches.

"I don't remember another header I've scored," Manchester United forward James said. "I've had quite a few in the last month at club level that I've been disappointed with, really. I was due a header. It’s about getting in the right positions."

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When asked if he expected the forward to pounce on a header, assistant coach Robert Page replied: "No, not at all! We didn't see DJ attacking it at the back post but what a goal – what a header. He deserves all the credit he's going to get."

The result comes as a much-needed boost for Wales which has struggled to put a lid on off-field distractions in recent weeks. Wales trio Hal Robson-Kanu, Rabbi Matondo and Tyler Roberts were released from the squad on Monday for breaching a curfew at the team hotel.

Meanwhile, Wales was led once again by Page, with manager Ryan Giggs staying away from the team due to his arrest on suspicion of assaulting a woman last year. Giggs has denied the allegations and has had his bail extended until May 1 - just six weeks before Wales begins its Euro 2020 campaign against Switzerland.

When asked if Page should stay in charge for the European Championships if Giggs remained absent, James said: "Yes, definitely. He has just been doing the job that he was doing before. He gets the points across to us so well. Nothing has changed really."