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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 May 2007, 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK
Wales 2-2 New Zealand
Craig Bellamy fires in his excellent second goal
Bellamy's magic saved Wales from embarrassing defeat
Wales' preparations for next week's crucial Czech Republic game were shaken as they twice had to come from behind to deny New Zealand a historic win.

Danny Gabbidon was horribly out of match practice in a lacklustre defence that allowed Shane Smeltz to put the visitors ahead after just two minutes.

Craig Bellamy fired in from Ryan Giggs' pin-point cross, but a strong Smeltz header restored New Zealand's lead.

Bellamy saved blushes with a great shimmy and shot that was deflected in.


The game at Wrexham's Racecourse Ground was the visitors' first in Wales, the only previous encounter between the two sides a non-cap match in New Zealand in 1971, won 1-0 by Wales.

John Toshack's side return to Cardiff's Millennium Stadium next Saturday for their must-win Euro 2008 qualifier, and will know that they must show a sharp improvement to have any chance against the Czechs.

New Zealand were missing a number of their leading players - including Chris Killen, Ivan Vicelich and captain Danny Hay - and had feared a hammering.

But after just two minutes Duncan Oughton sped past a static Sam Ricketts and Gabbidon down the right, before cutting the ball back across the six-yard box for Halifax striker Smeltz to drill home.

Gabbidon, who had not played since January after groin surgery, was totally off the pace and nearly embarrassed when Leo Bertos turned him before testing Danny Coyne with a chip.

Wales finally got into the game as Simon Davies set Giggs up for a run down the right.

Shane Smeltz celebrates a goal
Halifax striker Smeltz caused Wales' defence major problems

The Wales skipper found Bellamy in acres of space in the box, the Liverpool striker tucking home a right-footed shot from the middle of the area.

The lively Robert Earnshaw then freed Giggs, but his attempted cross failed to reach Bellamy.

Any thought that the All Whites - playing, confusingly, in all blue - were about to roll over was shattered, though, as Wales' flapping back line scrambled a free kick clear.

Tim Brown pumped the ball back into the box, and, with Coyne nowhere, Smeltz snuck ahead of Ricketts to head in his second.

It needed a moment of Bellamy magic to get the home side level at the break.

He was well marshalled on the edge of the box, but a dip of the shoulder took him past Tony Lochhead and a rifled shot from the right-hand side was deflected past Mark Paston.

Toshack tried to cure Wales' defensive frailties at the break by switching Gabbidon to the sweeper role, with Steve Evans and Joe Ledley brought on in place of Carl Fletcher and Chris Gunter.

Coyne was also taken off, allowing Wayne Hennessey to join 17-year-old Gunter in winning his first cap.

We should beat New Zealand... maybe we were complacent

Craig Bellamy

The changes enlivened Wales, Ricketts setting off on a determined run before squaring to Ledley, whose shot from the edge of the box was well saved by Paston.

Wrexham centre-back Evans nearly claimed his first international goal, a strong header from a corner flashing just wide of the post.

Barnsley striker Daniel Nardiello joined Wales' debutants, replacing Earnshaw in the 65th minute, leaving Neal Eardley as the only uncapped squad member not to collect a cap.

Another Gabbidon mistake nearly gave Smeltz his hat trick, the West Ham defender sleeping as the ball rolled back into his area, allowing the Kiwi to nip in with a snap shot that hammered against the post.

Bellamy was then denied his hat-trick, the striker taking the ball wide beyond Paston and firing goalwards, but seeing the cover defence block the shot to ensure the visitors a well-deserved share of the spoils.

Wales: Coyne (Hennessey 46), Gunter (Evans 46), James Collins, Gabbidon, Ricketts, Simon Davies (Crofts 76), Fletcher (Ledley 46), Robinson, Giggs (Llewellyn 76), Bellamy, Earnshaw (Nardiello 64).
Subs Not Used: Eardley, Morgan.

Booked: Gunter.

Goals: Bellamy 18, 38.

New Zealand: Paston, Pritchett, Boyens, Fignund, Lochhead, Christie (Barron 58), Brown, Oughton, Bertos (Campbell 60), James, Smeltz.
Subs Not Used: Moss, Old, Brockie.

Booked: Boyens.

Goals: Smeltz 2, 24.

Att: 7,819

Ref: Tommy Fkjerven (Norway).


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