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Last Updated: Saturday, 2 June 2007, 15:59 GMT 16:59 UK
Wales 0-0 Czech Republic
Euro 2008 Group D qualifier
Millennium Stadium, 2 June 2007



Ryan Giggs was given a standing ovation in his last match for Wales
Ryan Giggs was given a standing ovation in his last match for Wales
Ryan Giggs had no dream ending to his Wales career but left Cardiff with pride intact as they matched the Czech Republic in this Euro 2008 qualifer.

Only a fine save from Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech denied Giggs a 13th Wales goal to add to his 64th and final cap.

Wayne Hennessey was equally impressive for Wales, the 20-year-old commanding his area and denying Tomas Rosicky and Marek Kulic with excellent stops.

The draw suited neither side's Group D hopes but showed promise for Wales.

The pre-match build-up may have been all about Giggs ending his international career to concentrate on club football, but after kick-off it was all about qualification points.

The Czechs needed a win to keep pressure on Germany and the Republic of Ireland at the top of Group D.

For Wales three points were imperative to keep afloat their already distant hopes of making the Euro 2008 finals.

606: DEBATE

Milan Baros and Rosicky showed the Czech's intent to shoot on sight with hurried efforts that skewed wide of Hennessey's goal.

The Wolves youngster was preferred to veteran Danny Coyne and, in his second international appearance, showed early poise by calmly plucking a floated free-kick out of the air.

In front of him Danny Gabbidon was deployed as a sweeper, looking far more positive than in last week's friendly draw with New Zealand, with Lewin Nyatanga partnering James Collins at centre-back.

The first real goal threats came from Wales and fittingly it was captain Giggs who supplied them.

First the Manchester United wing got lucky from a rebound but seized on the chance to thread the ball towards skipper-in-waiting Craig Bellamy.

Jason Koumas came closest to scoring for Wales with a fine free-kick
Koumas came closest to scoring for Wales with a fine free-kick

Only the outstretched leg of defender David Rozehnal denied Bellamy a gilt-edged scoring chance, then moments later Giggs sent a free-kick curling just over the Czech crossbar.

A driving run from Marek Jankulovski, recently a European Cup winner with AC Milan, down the left carved out a shooting chance for Rosicky.

But the Czech skipper could not get any power into his shot and Hennessey was able to watch the ball trickle wide.

The biggest threat to the Wales goal by far - in all senses - was giant centre-forward Jan Koller, whose strength when the ball was played into feet was causing problems.

If Koller was the threat close in, Rosicky was getting closer with his long-range efforts.

As the half-hour mark approached only a flying save from Hennessey prevented the Arsenal midfielder from finding the top corner of the Wales net with a 25-yard drive.

The combination between Bellamy and Giggs still showed promise for Wales, while Jason Koumas looked lively in the home midfield.

Koumas, being courted by Premiership clubs following West Brom's Championship play-off loss to Derby last week, had Cech scrambling across his goal to touch a snap-shot wide.

Simon Davies' charged down shot was the last significant action of the first half, with the Czechs on top but by no means in control.

Sparta Prague forward Marek Kulic replaced Baros for the Czechs after half-time but, as in the first half, it was Wales who carved out the first opportunity.

Collins' deep pass sent Bellamy scampering away down the left channel and the Liverpool man cut the ball back for Giggs, only for Rozehnal to produce another fine tackle.

But the Czechs' response was a cross for Koller, nodded on for Rosicky, with Sam Ricketts' saving header averting a dangerous situation.

Then the woodwork came to the Czech's rescue as Koumas cannoned a free-kick off the junction of post and crossbar with Cech beaten.

The Chelsea goalkeeper's next task was far more simple as Giggs failed to get enough curve on a shot and instead clipped the ball into Cech's midriff.

David Jarolim replaced defender Jan Polak to support Rosicky in the visitors' midfield, the danger man who soon after blasted a free-kick against Collins.

With 68 minutes on the clock Giggs picked up a loose ball on halfway and sped upfield.

Czech striker Jan Koller proved a handful for the Wales defence
Czech striker Jan Koller proved a handful for the Wales defence

The 33-year-old ghosted past the first Czech defender before jinking past a second, a third, then a fourth white shirt and onto his favoured left foot.

The Welsh fans were on their feet anticipating a fairytale ending only for Cech to prove the ogre of the piece, standing firm to pull off a fine save high to his right.

Hennessey conjured an equally impressive stop soon after as Kulic broke through, spreading all of his considerable frame to block the goal-bound shot.

It was end-to-end stuff and Davies fired over from Giggs' back-heel, Koumas blazed over, before Jarolim had a shot charged down by Collins at the other end.

Two minutes before the end Giggs was replaced - to a huge standing ovation - by Rob Earnshaw, handing over the captain's armband to successor Bellamy.

Kulic nearly dampened things with a header that flew over the Wales bar, but Wales were able to bid farewell to one of their finest ever players with a draw full of pride, fight and no little skill.

However, the point leaves Wales on seven from six games and almost certainly out of the qualification picture.

The Czech's led Group D only until Saturday evening when Germany, who still have a game in hand, beat San Marino 6-0 to top the table by two points.


Wales: Hennessey, Ricketts, Nyatanga, Gabbidon, James Collins, Robinson, Ledley, Koumas, Simon Davies, Giggs, Bellamy.
Subs: Coyne, Evans, Earnshaw, Arron Davies, Fletcher, Crofts, Llewellyn.

Czech Republic: Cech, Ujfalusi, Kovac, Jankulovski, Rozehnal, Polak, Sivok, Rosicky, Plasil, Koller, Baros.
Subs: Blazek, Matejovsky, Pecka, Jarolim, Hubschman, Kulic, Zapotocny.

Referee: Paul Allaerts (Belgium).



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