Wales edge past San Marino
Wales produced an unconvincing and largely lifeless display as they limped to a 2-1 victory over San Marino.
By Rob Parrish
Last Updated: 17/10/07 10:07pm
Wales produced an unconvincing and largely lifeless second-half display as they limped to a 2-1 victory over 10-man Group D minnows San Marino.
John Toshack had launched a scathing attack on his side after their 3-1 defeat by Cyprus on Saturday and demanded a response from his players, but they failed to deliver despite picking up three points.
Robert Earnshaw collected a pass from Craig Bellamy to give Wales the lead after 13 minutes, and the West Ham striker was again the creator for Joe Ledley's close-range second in the 36th minute.
But Toshack's men were limp after the interval and were made to pay when Andy Selva curled home a superb free-kick from the edge of the box after Sam Ricketts had been penalised for his challenge on Alessandro Della Valle.
The home side were reduced to 10 men in the closing stages when Nicola Albani received a second yellow card for deliberate handball, but it made little difference with Wales unable to muster a third against a side who had conceded 50 goals and scored just one in their previous 10 qualifiers.
Toshack had criticised the players' for being spoilt and pampered ahead of this match, with pressure on his own position.
As expected San Marino sat deep, with 10 men less than 30 yards from their goal and the onus was on Wales to create.
In the 12th minute Carl Robinson's quick free-kick reached Simon Davies and a neat pass to Bellamy in the box resulted in a stinging shot pushed away by Aldo Simoncini.
A minute later Wales were ahead. Gareth Bale found Bellamy and a quick pass to Earnshaw's feet ended with a shot on the turn which spun into the net off Simoncini's legs.
It was Earnshaw's first start for Wales in a year - and his first goal for his country since the Cardiff win over Cyprus.
San Marino's main defence was to constantly foul, with Maltese referee Anthony Zammit showing some early leniency.
Earnshaw had the ball in the net after a sweeping move but was judged offside, while Ledley saw an effort tipped over the angle by Simoncini.
Earnshaw had another effort disallowed for a foul on Simoncini as the pair contested a deflected Eardley cross on the line.
But Wales got their second goal in the 36th minute when Davies and Bellamy linked well to cut into the box and present Ledley with a far post tap-in - his first goal for his country.
Carlo Valentini, who had got away with two scything tackles on Gareth Bale, was eventually booked for a nasty lunge from behind on Ledley.
Teenager Bale then got himself booked, his first foul of the night, for a foul on Selva three minutes before the break.
San Marino managed their first shot on 49 minutes with a 25-yard free-kick from Selva which was saved by Price as it dipped towards the foot of a post.
Price was in action again soon after with another low save, this time when Valentini found space on the right.
Ricketts came on for Vaughan and gave away the free-kick from which Selva curled home beyond a motionless Price.
Then Damiani Vannucci was booked for a disgraceful lunge at Earnshaw as the game entered the closing stages.
Albani, already booked for a foul on Bellamy, was shown the red card on 84 minutes for deliberate handball, then Ricketts was booked for a foul - which rules him out of the next match against the Republic of Ireland.
Toshack was then pushed out of the way in injury time by Riccardo Muccioli, as the San Marino player tried to pick the ball up in front of the Wales dugout.
|San Marino||Team Statistics||Wales|
|0||1st Half Goals||2|
|4||Shots on Target||8|
|1||Shots off Target||2|