Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wales 0 - 1 Romania U-21 Qualifier

Wales Under-21 wasted a golden chance to seal a qualifying play-off place for next year's Uefa Championship finals after losing 1-0 to Romania in Wrexham.
Match report from BBC

Adrian Ropotan claimed the goal that gave Romania victory, Wales dozing as Gabriel Torje clipped in a free-kick. Brian Flynn's young side created a glut of chances but were unable to find the goal to seal their passage.

Wolves striker Sam Vokes was most culpable, putting over two first-half headers that he should have converted. Wales still lead Romania by a point at the top of Group 10 but the Romanians have a game in hand. However, qualification is still in Wales' hands as their final group game is the return in Romania on 9 September. Win that and a Wales team will still be in with a chance of making a major finals for the first time since the senior side featured at the 1958 World Cup.

Wales suffered an early scare when goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey hesitated as a free-kick arced in from the left. That sparked a goalmouth scramble but the big Wolves stopper redeemed himself with a fine block as the ball was fired towards the Wales net.

Wales composed themselves after that nervous start and soon had the alarm bells ringing at the Romanian end. Ched Evans drifted out to the left of the area and clipped in a reverse pass for strike partner Vokes, who could only find the midriff of goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu with his scuffed shot.

Romania were generally solid through the middle of the park but were starting to be picked apart on the flanks, where Gareth Bale had licence to roam down either side.
Tottenham's £10m man carved out a great chance for Dave Edwards from one flowing attack down the right, although Tatarusanu was out of his goal quickly to smother the danger.

Romania continued to struggle with Wales' accurate crossing and only survived because Vokes was having a poor night in front of goal. The Wolves frontman wasted two gilt-edged opportunities to head Wales in front. First Vokes flashed a strong chance just over the bar, after the hard-working Evans had again worked space for himself to curl a cross onto his team-mate's forehead.

Then as the half-hour mark approached it was Bale providing the ammunition, only for Vokes to again head over from even closer in. Despite some pleasing football played by both sides the game remained deadlocked at the break.

The half was marred only by a late scuffle sparked by Evans sliding in on keeper Tatarusanu as he chased a loose ball, both players booked for their troubles.

Wales continued their dominance after the restart, with Shaun MacDonald and Bale both drawing saves from the busy Tatarusanu. Bale also failed to connect with a Darcy Blake cross that flashed across the face of goal.

But then on 65 minutes Wales were caught by a sucker-punch as they went to sleep at a Romanian set-piece. The red shirts were static as Torje curled in a free-kick that found Dinamo team-mate Ropotan free in the Wales area. Ropotan flicked out a foot and claimed the goal - although there was some doubt he made contact - as the ball bounced into the bottom corner past the left hand of the despairing Hennessey.

Wales redoubled their efforts and Rhys Williams almost rescued a point with seven minutes left, only for the Middlesbrough defender to see his shot deflected onto the Romania crossbar.

Then in the dying moments Bale unleashed a rocket that seemed destined for the back of the net, only for Tatarusanu to fly across his goal to palm the ball away.

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