Wales beaten in Belgrade
By Neil Foster. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
WALES failed to secure a play-off place after losing their first match of the Euro 2004 qualifying competition, going down 1-0 to Serbia and Montenegro in Belgrade.
Pedrag Mlaznovic scored the vital goal for the home side after a lacklustre first 70 minutes from the Welsh.
Wales brought in Nathan Blake for the injured John Hartson while Cardiff's Danny Gabbidon replaced Andy Melville in the centre of defence.
As expected the home side dominated proceedings for the first 15 minutes, but despite their hustle and bustle they had little to show for their efforts.
However in the 10th minute Dejan Stankovic saw his shot deflected over the bar by Robert Page and from the resulting corner Paul Jones was forced into an excellent save from Zvonimir Vukic.
Wales created little during the first period but Ryan Giggs (pictured) was lively throughout down the left flank and he just failed to pick out Simon Davies with a cross as the half progressed.
Welsh hearts were in their mouths just after the half-hour mark as Stankovic let fly with a superb 30-yard strike which beat Jones but rattled into the woodwork.
Wales defended with typical grit throughout the first period and despite being on the back foot for the majority of the half, their goal was never really under much threat from the disappointing Serbians.
The second half followed a similar pattern until Serbia took the lead with a controversial goal.
Former Aston Villa striker Savo Milosovic entered the fray from the bench on 72 minutes and he was involved in the goal just one minute later as the home side went ahead.
From a corner he appeared to climb all over Matt Delaney at the far post but managed to head the ball back across the goal for Pedrag Mlaznovic to smash it into the back of the Welsh net.
The goal gave Wales a much-needed wake-up call and they began to throw caution to the wind in a search for an equaliser.
Substitute Robert Earnshaw had a superb chance to level the match but, after rounding the keeper, his goal-bound shot was intercepted by Stankovic and the chance went begging.
Wales continued to press with Danny Gabbidon heading just over from a Giggs cross.
Gary Speed then blasted over with six minutes remaining but Wales could not find the back of the net and paid the price for sitting back and waiting for something to happen for the first 75 minutes of the match.