Wales grab late draw
Late leveller denies Ireland victory
By Graeme Bailey. Last Updated: 17/11/07 5:38pm
Koumas: On target
Wales scored a last-minute penalty to seal a 2-2 draw with Republic of Ireland in their Euro 2008 qualifier at The Millennium Stadium.
Ireland had looked like finishing their qualifying campaign on a high as Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle had put them 2-1 up after Jason Koumas had headed Wales in front.
However, in the final minute substitute David Cotterill broke clear and was hauled down by Paul McShane and referee Oleg Oriekhov pointed straight to the spot.
Koumas stepped up to send Shay Given the wrong way and deny Ireland the victory they just about deserved.
Welsh hopes were hardly helped inside a Millennium Stadium that was little more than a third full.
Neal Eardley found himself up against Celtic's flying winger Aiden McGeady and he had tough baptism early on. McGeady's run and cross presented Keane with a great chance, but his header was saved by Wayne Hennessey, who was again tested by the Irish skipper just moments later from 20 yards.
Koumas, skipper Simon Davies and Carl Fletcher combined well to allow Chris Gunter a run and cross from the left, but Joe Ledley miskicked from six yards out.
Wales then drew first blood on 23 minutes. Ledley got past Steve Finnan after with a clever change of pace before cutting back to lift a fine cross into the box where Koumas headed down and away from a stranded Given.
Three minutes later it was Ledley again creating the danger with a cross which deflected off Kevin Kilbane straight into Fletcher's path, but the midfielder held his head in his hands after blazing over from 10 yards.
The Irish responded with the equaliser after 31 minutes. Doyle threaded a pass through to Keane who raced clear and lifted his effort over Hennessey.
Wales put Ledley into a more central role after the break, with Koumas on the left, and they seemed intent on reclaiming the initiative they had slowly lost to the Irish in the first period.
It took a fine Given tip-over two minutes into the half to stop a deflected Eastwood header dropping into the net. Then Davies saw a 20-yard shot deflected inches over.
The Irish soon replaced Liam Miller with Stephen Hunt and the Reading midfielder made a huge difference.
WIth his first touch Hunt set up the Republic's second goal. He got away down the left and sent in a curling, low cross for his club-mate Doyle to slide in off the far post.
Wales looked for a leveller and Given had to make a flying save to turn away a 25-yard shot from Koumas.
Wales sent on Cotterill for Eardley with 10 minutes left and, as with Ireland, the substitute created the second goal.
Into the final minute Cotterill chased down a long ball and got ahead of McShane and as the pair reached the box the Sunderland defender hauled Cotterill back.
Ukrainian referee Oriekhov gave the penalty and Koumas stepped up to blast it past Given.
Ireland have now finished their disappointing campaign on 17 points - well behind the top two of Germany and Czech Republic, whilst Wales complete their fixtures on Wednesday with a trip to Munich.
|Wales||Team Statistics||Republic of Ireland|
|1||1st Half Goals||1|
|5||Shots on Target||4|
|5||Shots off Target||11|
European Championship Qualifying
Sat 17th Nov - Group A
Finland2 - 1Azerbaijan
Poland2 - 0Belgium
Portugal1 - 0Armenia
Sat 17th Nov - Group D
Wales2 - 2Rep Ire
Germany4 - 0Cyprus
Czech Rep3 - 1Slovakia
Sat 17th Nov - Group F
Latvia4 - 1Liechtenstein
N Ireland2 - 1Denmark
Spain3 - 0Sweden
Sat 17th Nov - Group G
Bulgaria1 - 0Romania
Albania2 - 4Belarus
Holland1 - 0Luxembourg
Sat 17th Nov - Group E
Andorra0 - 2Estonia
Israel2 - 1Russia
Macedonia2 - 0Croatia
Sat 17th Nov - Group B
Scotland1 - 2Italy
Lithuania2 - 0Ukraine
Sat 17th Nov - Group C
Moldova3 - 0Hungary
Norway1 - 2Turkey
Greece5 - 0Malta
European Championship Qualifying Group A
European Championship Qualifying Group B
|5||Bosnia and Herzegovina||4||2|
European Championship Qualifying Group C
European Championship Qualifying Group D
|4||Republic of Ireland||4||7|
European Championship Qualifying Group E
European Championship Qualifying Group F
European Championship Qualifying Group G
European Championship Qualifying Group H
European Championship Qualifying Group I