Euro 2012 qual. - Vucinic strike downs Wales

Eurosport - Fri, 03 Sep 19:41:00 2010

Wales' 2012 Euro Championship qualifying campaign got off to a miserable start in Montenegro as Mirko Vucinic struck to sink John Toshack's men.

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The Welsh started brightly in their Group G opener, with the pace of Gareth Bale and Craig Bellamy posing a serious threat in the channels.

But as the home side started to dominate possession at the Gradski Stadium the visitors' defence frailties were exposed, with Montenegro's captain Vucinic the main protagonist.

It was the Roma striker who scored the decisive goal inside half an hour.

The skipper raced past a leaden footed James Collins and smashed the ball past Wayne Hennessey.

Montenegro created a number of chances to double their lead, but were unable to take advantage of some sloppy Welsh defending.

The away side attacked with renewed vigour in the second half, following the introduction of Robert Earnshaw and Simon Church.

Bellamy squandered two excellent chances, before Church hit the bar with a header and had a goal ruled out for offside.

A frantic finish failed to yield any further goals and Montenegro claimed only their second ever competitive win since their birth in 2007.

Zlatko Kranjcar's fired their first warning shot in the opening minutes as Radomir Djalovic stung the hands of Wayne Hennessey.

Bale and Bellamy were in mischievous mood and their flashes of electric speed carved open a number of promising opportunities for the Welsh, but they were poorly supported by their team-mates.

Failure to make the most of their lively beginning to the game was ruthlessly punished by Montenegro.

There were early warning signs when Simon Vukcevic cut in from the right and fizzed a shot wide of Hennessey's goal.

The home side identified a weakness down Wales' left side and sought to take advantage.

Savo Pavicevic charged down the right and picked out Vucinic, but the skipper could only guide a header wide of the post.

Kranjcar's men could smell blood and Branko Boskovic came close to breaking the deadlock when he forced a smart save Hennessey.

The Welsh goalkeeper dived down low to his left and smothered the shot to give his side a stay of execution.

On the half hour mark Montenegro burst in front with a fine individual effort from Vucinic. The Roma forward outstripped Collins down the left wing, before blasting a shot past Hennessey at his near post.

After falling a goal behind Wales started to steady the ship and the speed of Bale created a chance for Bellamy, who could only shoot high, wide and anything but handsome.

The Welsh breathed a sigh of relief as a deflected shot from Vucinic span wide of their goal, to keep the score at 1-0 at half-time.

The pressure looked to be getting to Toshack's troops after the break as the clock ticked towards 90 minutes and their defending got nervier.

The defenders were almost more effective at the other end as Ashley Williams came close to poking an effort past Mladen Bozovic, following a flick on from Collins.

Montenegro survived this scare and looked comfortably in control as the Welsh gave away possession cheaply.

With five minutes remaining the contest came alive. In a frantic finish chances arrived at either end.

Bellamy squandered two good opportunities in quick succession. His first effort was turned round the post by Bozovic and from the resulting corner he headed straight into the grateful arms of the goalkeeper.

A header from Church crashed against the woodwork , before he had the ball in the back of the net.

Bellamy teed up Earnshaw who saw his shot well saved by the sprawling frame of Bozovic - Church pounced on the rebound and fired the ball into the back of the net.

He wheeled away in celebration only to have his joy squashed by the linesman's flag.

Ben Welch / Eurosport

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