Neco Williams was on the scoresheet for Wales for the second time in his young career on a night to remember, but it was one to forget for Virgil van Dijk and the Netherlands.
Wales hosted Belarus on Saturday night with the safety net of a guaranteed play-off place and it allowed them to play with freedom from the first whistle to the last.
Aaron Ramey’s first of two goals arrived in the second minute and Williams, who lined up on the left flank, would score Wales’ second after a right-footed effort squirmed under the goalkeeper.
Perhaps fortuitous in its making but it was nothing Williams did not deserve having been a constant nuisance for the visitors throughout his 90-minute outing.
“Looked like he would have happily played another 90 minutes such was his effervescence throughout the night,” was how Wales Online assessed the 20-year-old’s night, who they crowned the star man.
A further three goals would come Wales’ way in the 5-1 win, two assisted by ex-Red Harry Wilson, as Belarus scored a late consolation.
Wales now just need one point against Belgium on Tuesday to guarantee second place in their group and boost their chances of a home play-off semi-final for the third round of qualifiers.
The Netherlands, meanwhile, are still on course for an automatic place at next year’s tournament despite their “scandalous” collapse in a 2-2 draw against Montenegro.
Lous van Gaal’s side were on course to qualify with a game to spare as Memphis Depay struck on either side of half-time but two goals for Montenegro in the last eight minutes obliterated that plan.
“It is just scandalous how we played the second half. We all want to have the ball, we all want to play football, attack and score,” Van Dijk said after the game.
“We just had to secure qualification here. With all due respect to Montenegro, but as the Netherlands you just have to win here. Especially if you are leading 2-0. Maybe it was a bit of laziness.”
Another draw would be enough for the Netherlands against Norway on Tuesday but they will have to do so in a behind closed door fixture after a partial lockdown was imposed in the country.
Elsewhere, Divock Origi was handed six minutes in Belgium’s 3-1 win over Estonia, his first run out for his country since October 2020.
Young academy defender Luke Chambers started and played 71 minutes for England under-19s in a 0-0 draw against Switzerland, with James Balagizi an unused substitute.
And Terence Miles scored a crucial penalty in a 5-4 shootout win after regulation time ended in a goalless draw against Belgium for the England under-18s, Miles scored the Young Lions’ second spot kick.