International Football - Wales thrash Luxembourg
Eurosport - Wed, 11 Aug 22:21:00 2010
Wales romped home in the second half to comprehensively beat Luxembourg 5-1 in a friendly after a poor first half at the Parc y Scarlets.
A hastily assembled Wales side struggled to find any fluency in a first half that finished all square after David Cotterill's opener and first goal for his country had been cancelled out by a deserved equaliser from Luxembourg's Joel Kitenge.
However, after making changes at half time, John Toshack's side looked far more confident in the second half and ran out comfortable 5-1 winners, a timely confidence boost ahead of the opening round of Euro 2012 qualifiers next month which sees Wales visit Montenegro.
The hosts quickly took the lead after half-time when captain Craig Bellamy won a penalty after cutting in from the left hand side. Joe Ledley stepped up and coolly converted the penalty, sending the keeper the wrong way.
Just 10 minutes later Bellamy was again involved as his corner was headed home by substitute Andy King for his first goal for his country.
Wales dominated the second half, with the excellent Bellamy and Ledley pulling the strings and they nearly increased their lead when Ashley Williams saw a header drift just wide with the keeper well beaten.
With 25 minutes left to play Luxembourg were reduced to 10-men following Mario Mutsch's second yellow card and Williams grabbed his first goal for Wales, heading home after Steve Morison had flicked on Bellamy's corner.
The victory was then rounded off when man of the match Bellamy raced through down the left and rolled the ball home for Wales' fifth.
After seeing Gareth Bale and Darcy Blake pull out of the squad late in the day after picking up niggles in training Wales were able to name just four outfield substitutes on the bench alongside two reserve goalkeepers. The two late pull outs saw Wales missing several key players and it showed in a first half performance in which they struggled to break down the Luxembourg defence.
However, the home side did take the lead after great movement from Robbie Earnshaw, who was winning his 50th cap for Wales, allowed him to get behind the visitors defence and clip a cross across the face of the goal for Cotterill to slot home at the far post.
Luxembourg had been the equal of Wales in the first half though, and their equaliser was fully deserved. Zaire born striker Kitenge burst through the middle and just when the chance looked like it had passed, his shot from outside the area took a heavy deflection off Craig Morgan and crashed in off the crossbar leaving Wayne Hennessey stranded.
Wales made three changes at half time, with Earnshaw, King and Hennessey being replaced by Andrew Crofts, Andy King and Boaz Myhill and almost immediately took the lead. Bellamy cut inside from wide on the left and was hacked down inside the area by Daniel Da Mota Alves.
The penalty was slotted home by Ledley, who sent Jonathan Joubert the wrong way, and a third goal for Wales looked likely as they piled the pressure on the Luxembourg defence.
And the visitors inevitably could not cope with the pressure and substitute King found the target on 55 minutes with the Leicester midfielder heading home after Joubert misjudged the flight of the ball.
Wales continued to dominate the game, with Ledley nearly adding his second after narrowly volleying wide, and defender Williams seeing his header drift just wide of the post. The home side's pressure paid off, when shortly after Mutsch picked up a second yellow for a foul on Cotterill, Williams got on the end of Morison's header and claimed his side's fourth goal.
Bellamy had been brilliant throughout and deserved the winning goal after racing clear and calmly slotting past Joubert to cap a satisfying night for the Welsh national team.