Slovakia slay Dragons
By Peter ORourke
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Wales slumped to a embarrassing 5-1 defeat to Slovakia in their Euro 2008 qualifier.
Wales slumped to a embarrassing 5-1 defeat to Slovakia in their Euro 2008 qualifier at the Millennium Stadium.
The game was a day to forget for Wales goalkeeper Paul Jones as he celebrated making his 50th appearance for Wales by conceding five goals.
The defeat was Wales' second of qualification and leaves them facing an uphill battle to try and get their campaign back on track.
Wales started brightly, but Slovakia stunned the home side by opening the scoring on 14 minutes through Dusan Svento with their first noteworthy attack of the game.
Robert Vittek was the creator of the goal when he turned inside the box and flashed the ball back across goal for Svento at the far post to slam home from close-range.
Wales tried to hit back straight away and Robert Earnshaw fired in a shot which was comfortably saved by Kamil Contofalsky.
The home side continued to probe for openings in the Slovakia defence and stand-in captain Bellamy teed up Davies for a shot which the Everton man drove harmlessly over the crossbar.
Slovakia were gifted a second goal just past the half hour mark when Jones made a terrible blunder.
Jones made a hash of a clearance kicking it straight to the feet of Mintal and the Slovakia striker brilliantly controlled the ball before curling his shot from 30 yards over the stranded Jones.
Wales pulled a goal back on 37 minutes with Bale scoring with a superb free kick from the edge of the area.
Bale has showed with Southampton this season his adeptness from set-pieces and after Jason Koumas had been felled on the edge of the area the 17-year-old stepped up to curl the free kick into the top corner beyond Contofalsky for his first goal for his country.
A minute later Slovakia restored their two-goal cushion when the Wales defence failed to close down Mintal and the Nurnberg ace drilled a fierce shot from 30 yards past a startled Jones.
Wales tried to rally and Davies wasted a golden opening on 42 minutes when Bellamy picked out the midfielder on the penalty spot, but Davies wastefully headed wide of the target.
Two minutes before the break Bellamy latched onto a pass from Koumas and flashed a left-footed shot just wide of the far post.
Slovakia put the game beyond Wales six minutes after the break with a brilliant strike from Karhan.
The visitors worked a short corner with Karhan picking the ball up on the edge of the area and the Slovakian skipper floated an unstoppable shot high over Jones and into the net.
Davies went close for Wales a minute later when he picked up a pass from Bale and curled in a shot which Contofalsky saved low down to his left.
Things got worse for Wales just before the hour mark when Svento burst past Richard Duffy down the right and despite being pulled back the defender squared the ball for the unmarked Vittek to score from six yards.
The fifth goal knocked the stuffing out of Wales and although they continued to battle manfully they looked susceptible to Slovakia on the counter attack.
Bellamy was denied a goal on 76 minutes when Koumas played him in, but Contofalsky was quickly off his line to keep out the striker's left-footed shot.
The defeat is a critical blow to Wales' hopes of qualifying for Euro 2008 and John Toshack will have a massive job to lift his players ahead of next week's game with Cyprus.
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