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Last Updated: Saturday, 2 September 2006, 20:10 GMT 21:10 UK
Czech Republic 2-1 Wales
Wales striker Craig Bellamy shows his despair in Teplice
Wales striker Craig Bellamy shows his despair in Teplice
Wales suffered late heartbreak in Teplice in their opening Euro 2008 qualifier away to the Czech Republic.

An own goal from defender Martin Jiranek seemed to have rescued a point for Wales, after David Lafata's header gave the home side the lead.

But substitute Lafata capped a dream debut by turning in a last-gasp winner.

Craig Bellamy had two gilt-edged chances to score for Wales but failed to round Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech when set free, then later hit a post.

Wales manager John Toshack opted for a five-man defence and the visitors needed every one of them to survive a torrid opening quarter.

It took just two minutes for the Czechs to break through with their new captain Tomas Rosicky skipping down the right channel to cross into the path of Jan Koller.

Fortunately for Wales, the giant Monaco striker was only able to prod the ball past the post from 10 yards.


Rosicky was at the heart of the Czech's play and the Arsenal midfielder threaded a ball between the Wales centre-backs for Marek Kulic to chase.

Wales goalkeeper Paul Jones, 39, was quickly off his line to make a fine save to his left.

Having weathered the early storm, Wales began to find a foothold in the game and Bellamy fired a snap-shot over the bar when Cech spilled a Ryan Giggs cross.

But the Czech keeper redeemed himself on the half-hour mark as Giggs sent Bellamy racing clear.

Bellamy seemed certain to score as he bore down on the Czech goal but Cech spread himself brilliantly to block the initial attempt as Bellamy tried to round him.

The striker then fired the rebound into the side-netting as Czech defenders flooded back.

It was thrilling end-to-end stuff, with both sides breaking with pace and verve as their opponents' attacks foundered.

Rosicky remained the biggest threat to Wales and he dispossessed Carl Robinson to fizz a 25-yard shot wide of the scrambling Jones just before half-time.

Wales defender James Collins tussles with Czech striker Jan Koller
Wales defender James Collins tussles with Czech striker Jan Koller

West Ham pair Danny Gabbidon and James Collins, aided by Derby's Lewin Nyatanga, had been magnificent at the heart of Wales' defence to keep Koller under wraps.

Toshack made one change for the second half, replacing Carl Fletcher in favour of Cardiff tyro Joe Ledley to give more options on the left.

It nearly paid immediate dividends as Ledley, bursting into the Czech box, just failed to connect with Simon Davies' cross from the right.

Another Rosicky scamper nearly broke the deadlock but the midfield dynamo again grazed the outside of Jones' post, while David Rozehnal whistled a header just wide.

Bellamy had another chance to be Wales' hero as he sprang the offside trap, only for his shot to cannon off the post with Cech beaten this time.

But 76 minutes of good work was undone as substitute Lafata stooped to head home for the Czech Republic.

The FK Jablonec striker challenged Jones for a high ball , whose clearing punch was returned into the box by Libor Sionko.

Lafata had not returned from his offside position, but Wales waited vainly for a flag from the referee's assistant as the ball hit the back of the net.

Toshack sent on Rob Earnshaw and David Cotterill up front and the pair soon combined to bring about a Welsh equaliser.

Earnshaw's lay-off gave the new Wigan recruit space to fire a cross into the Czech six-yard box and Jiranek turned the ball into his own net.

But Welsh cheer turned to gloom in the final minute as Marek Jankulovski's cross was turned back into the danger area by Sionko for Lafata to hook home the winner.

Czech Republic: Cech, Ujfalusi, Jiranek, Rozehnal, Jankulovski, Stajner (Sionko 45), Galasek (Kovac 87), Rosicky, Plasil, Kulic (Lafata 75), Koller.
Subs Not Used: Kinsky, Matejovsky, Sivok, Zapotocny.

Goals: Lafata 76, 89.

Wales: Jones, Delaney (Cotterill 78), Gabbidon, Collins, Nyatanga, Ricketts (Earnshaw 79), Robinson, Fletcher (Ledley 47), Davies, Giggs, Bellamy.
Subs Not Used: Brown, Vaughan, Edwards, Duffy.

Booked: Robinson.

Goals: Jiranek 85 og.

Att: 16,204.

Ref: Jonas Eriksson (Sweden).

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