World Cup - Wales lose in Speed memorial match

Wed, 29 Feb 21:42:00 2012

Wales were defeated 1-0 by Costa Rica in the Gary Speed Memorial match at the Cardiff City Stadium.

2012 FOOTBALL Wales' captain Craig Bellamy stands with the sons of Gary Speed - 0

On an emotionally charged night in the Welsh capital, the home side struggled to create many chances in Chris Coleman's first match as Speed's successor of the national team.

Costa Rica were ahead after just seven minutes when Arsenal's Joel Campbell exchanged passes with Fulham's Bryan Ruiz before slotting home.

Steve Morison came closest to scoring when his header crashed against the bar but Wales, captained by Craig Bellamy on what could be his last international appearance, struggled without their star names Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale.

Bellamy led Wales out alongside Speed's two sons - Ed and Tom - and the Liverpool forward was Wales' brightest player in the early stages - but a classy opener by Campbell stunned the hosts.

Buoyed by chants of "There's only one Gary Speed," Wales finished the first half on a high and could have taken the lead when Morison's header crashed against the underside of the bar.

Ashley Williams, too, should have drawn the sides level but lashed his shot over the bar from close range.

But Wales failed to build on those moments in the second half and Costa Rica, boosted by the superb partnership between Campbell and Ruiz, threatened to add to their lead - with Lewis Price keeping Wales in the game with a crucial stop.

Bellamy didn't have a vintage day in front goal before his eventual substitution, with his replacement Robert Earnshaw having a goal ruled out for offside in the closing minutes.

But it was a night when Wales were short of ideas going forward, and the home side could have been punished further if Costa Rica had made more of their second half openings.

Coleman said before the game that this was not his first game in charge, but a celebration of Speed's life and immense contribution to football.

But Coleman will be hoping that Bale, Ramsey and Bellamy are available when Wales' qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup gets underway against Belgium in September.

Michael Da Silva - @mjdasilva / Eurosport

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