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Wales 0-0 Czech Republic
Euro 2008 Group D qualifier
Millennium Stadium, 2 June 2007


By Charlie Henderson

"On paper the Czech Republic are a good team, but they were disappointing and Wales had a chance to turn them over. A point isn't enough and it is time for Wales to re-build."
Dean Saunders, Five Live analyst

Player rater: Ryan Giggs is your Man of the Match with 8.49 at the final whistle.

That's it. The Czech Republic go top of Group D - for the time being - and Wales stay in fifth.

1651: A wave of white shirts surges towards the Wales goal. Marek Kulic's cheeky flick gives the hosts a chance to clear the initial danger and Jaroslav Plasil fires over.

1650: There will be two minutes of added time.

1649: Marek Kulic heads over from a right-wing cross.

"I can't belive that. I understand he's got a standing ovation, but he's our best player and we've got to win the game."
Dean Saunders, Five Live analyst

1648: A first Wales substitution. The stadium rises as one as Ryan Giggs leaves the international scene. He gives the armband to Craig Bellamy, applauds the fans and trots off to make way for Robert Earnshaw.

1647: A muddle at the back from the Czechs, but they recover to clear ahead of the sniping Craig Bellamy.

1646: A bit of handbags from Jan Koller and Joe Ledley as they clash over a ball running out for a Wales goal-kick. Despite the size difference, Ledley looks up for it.

1645: A well-worked free-kick from Wales. Jason Koumas rolls it forward to Ryan Giggs who flicks it to Craig Bellamy, but the ball spins away from the future skipper to Petr Cech. Nice.

1644: A third and final Czech change, and it suggest the visitors will ramp up the pressure on Wales in the final stages. Holding midfielder Tomas Sivok makes way for attacking midfielder Marek Matejovsky.

1643: Cheers from the crowd as Wales hump a corner into the mixer. James Collins gets a glancing touch to it and the ball is out for another corner. Collins meets the second delivery, heading over.

1642: Good work from Craig Bellamy on the right. He is patient before clipping a cross into the box. Nobody bothered to make a run into the box though.

1641: Inside the final 10 minutes.

1640: Ryan Giggs hooks a pass from the free-kick square to Jason Koumas and from the edge of the area the West Brom midfielder fizzes an effort over.

1639: Wales win a free-kick in an advanced position.

1637: The Czechs are pregnant with purpose, but then another poor touch from Champions League winner Marek Jankulovski and a chance to open up the Welsh goes begging.

1636: Jan Koller strides forward, brushing off red shirts like a giant flicking away a red ant. Danny Gabbidon's no ant. He slides in with a telling tackle to check the Czech's run.

1635: James Collins is called on at the other end with a firm block and Wales break. Ryan Giggs earns a corner. End-to-end stuff now.

1634: Ryan Giggs and Simon Davies link up a gain. Giggs backheels a James Collins pass to the edge of the area to Davies who fires wide.

1633: Simon Davies finds Ryan Giggs in the box, but the Czechs clear the danger.

1631: More promising play from the visitors but Tomas Rosicky's effort on goal is poor. And high. And wide.

1630: A chance for the Czechs. Wayne Hennessey does well to save from Marek Kulic after Jaroslav Plasil played him in on the left.

1629: Approaching the last 20 minutes of the match. At this stage of the return fixture it was also goalless before the Czechs won 2-1.

1628: Ryan Giggs and Petr Cech go head-to-head again. Giggs goes on a glorious run, snaking foroward from halfway past four defenders to the edge of the D, but his fierce shot is palmed clear.

1627: A snap shot from Ryan Giggs, but Petr Cech had not strayed so far off his line that he wasn't fully behind an audacious volley from the Wales skipper.

1624: A second Czech change. David Jarolim comes on for Jan Polak.

1622: There's the money shot for the cameraman. A big fella in a Czech shirt asleep in the stand. Clearly had a bit too much of the local brew.

1621: Czech momentum is repeatedly breaking down with a stray pass here and there. Nine good ones and then the 10th is rank, this time from Marek Jankulovski.

1619: The Czech Republic are in the ascendancy but a chance for Wales. Ryan Giggs plays a ball over the top, but Craig Bellamy is flagged for offside. He wasn't.

1617: Another Wales corner. Another short one. Another wasted one.

1615: Jason Koumas rolls the ball into the path of the on-rushing Ryan Giggs, but his effort curls straight into the grateful grasp of Petr Cech. That was the first effort on target from Wales.

1614: Poor defending from Wales this time. James Collins heads weakly away from inside the area and he could have been made to pay had the ball dropped for Jan Polak.

1613: Strong applause greets some strong smothering Welsh defence as the Czechs threaten on the break.

1610: Ryan Giggs steps over the ball for Jason Koumas to crack a right-footed effort on to the angle of post and bar. Petr Cech was beaten all ends up.

1609: Jason Koumas draws a foul from Radoslav Kovac. Clumsy in a central position.

1606: An important defensive header from Sam Ricketts after Jan Koller failed to hit the target with a header of his own from a right-wing cross. Marek Kulic was ready and waiting behind Ricketts at the back post.

1605: Ryan Giggs races on to a great ball over the top from James Collins, but his pull back fails to find Craig Bellamy.

1604: Simon Davies is playing keepie-uppie on the centre spot before Wales get the action going again on the last 45 minutes in the international career of Ryan Giggs.

1603: The players are back out. Marek Kulic has replaced Milan Baros for the Czech Republic.

1548: HALF-TIME Wales 0-0 Czech Republic
The other 21 players follow David Rozehnal down the tunnel for a well-earned break and some well-deserved liqiuid refreshment.

1546: David Rozehnal goes off with an ice pack on his face and Petr Cech kicks the ball out from the goal-kick to a cacophony of boos which are more tuneful than the pre-match singing.

1545: Craig Bellamy's effing and blinding after smashing the ball out of play with David Rozehnal out cold on the ground. Wales were in a good position and he didn't need to do it. Rozehnal was caught challenging for a high ball by Ryan Giggs.

1543: A deflected shot from Jason Koumas spins wide of the Czech goal. Chelsea's scrum-cap wearing stopper Petr Cech was scrambling for that one.

1542: The ball breaks to the left flank and Marek Jankulovski fires in a fierce shot-cum-cross which is grapsed under his bar by Wayne Hennessey.

1541: Best move of the match. Poise, panache and precision in the pass on the right from the Czechs. Tomas Ujfalusi goes down in the box, but play is waved on.

1539: Jaroslav Plasil is full of running on the left as he brings the ball out of defence. Over halfway. Into the attacking third. And then he runs it out of play. What an idiot after all that effort.

1537: Short again, this time from Jason Koumas. Ryan Giggs finally flights a delivery into the box but it is all to easy to clear for the Czechs.

1536: Another corner for Wales. What will they do with this one?

Player rater: Ryan Giggs is way out in front. What a farewell present. The sort of thing he can be proud of in his dotage.

1532: If there were 65 places between teams in the league and they met in the cup the minnows would be putting deadballs into the mixer time and time again. Wales don't. For the second time Wales skipper Ryan Giggs goes short with his delivery which makes it easy for the white-shirted visitors to defend.

1531: Corner to Wales in front of a bank of empty red seats.

1530: A first real save of the match for either goalkeeper. Wayne Hennessey throws himself at full-length to his left to palm away a Tomas Rosicky shot.

1527: Wales seem a bit shy in front of goal. Ryan Giggs could have had a pop earlier, when he instead opted to play in Craig Bellamy, and now Simon Davies enters the hall of shame, or maybe blame. A delightful deft disguised pass into the box from Giggs, but Davies takes a touch, is crowded out of it and reversing out of a cul-de-sac.

1525: Wales give Jan Polak acres of space. He cuts in off the right flank. Goes a bit more. And some more. Before you know it he's in a central position outside the area and fires a shot over.

1524: Jaroslav Plasil bursts into the box on the left and his blocked shot earns a corner. Wales repel the danger.

1522: Deadly duo? Maybe not with things still a stalemate. Prized pair more like.

1521: The vast majority of the good stuff for Wales comes through Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy. The deadly duo dazzle on the left before Simon Davies wants a bit of the action on the right. He shoots wide.

1518: Marek Jankulovski bursts down the left, finds Milan Baros and his lay off on the edge of the area is met by Tomas Rosicky. The Arsenal man fails to make a sweet contact with the ball and it rolls rather gently wide.

1516: After a cautious start Wales are right in this now. There may be 65 places between them on a print out of the Fifa world rankings, but they look pretty level at the moment on grass.

1513: A good spell from Wales. Two corners and now and free-kick on the right edge of the box. Ryan Giggs whips it over the bar left-footed. High over the bar.

1512: A one-two between Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy in the box, but David Rozehnal gets a vital touch to poke it away.

1510: Things are evening up a bit. John Toshack looks on from the touchlines with slight concern, or maybe that's just because he's squinting into the sun.

1507: A corner for the Czech Republic which avoids everyone and Wales break. The yellow-booted, fleet-footed Craig Bellamy is isolated as his flat-footed team-mates consider chugging up in support.

1505: Here's something to cheer Wales fans. Ryan Giggs looks to squirt a pass through to Craig Bellamy on the edge of the area. It doesn't find the Liverpool man but it is a moment of promise.

1504: The visitors are bossing possession.

1502: Milan Baros, sporting a new close crop as opposed to that floppy fringe of old, gets an early shot on target. It is weak and Wayne Hennessey gets a first touch of the ball.

1501: The Czechs get the game started.

1457: Football fans aren't half as good at singing as rugby fans. The Millennium Stadium's like a cathedral choir in the Six Nations. This lot are more like a bunch of kids with a hairbrush for a microphone in front of their mirror at home.

1455: Here comes that man Ryan Giggs, leading out the Welsh team. Wales in red and the Czech Republic in white.

1453: Of course - phew, didn't start that with a confusing and - this is all about a goodbye to Ryan Giggs. "We heart Ryan" and the Welsh equivalent of "Diolch yn fawr Ryan". Loads of lovely homemade signs.

1450: It is an abolutely beautiful day in Cardiff. The sun is out, but not many fans are. The Millennium Stadium isn't quite as empty as the debenture seating at Wembley, but it's getting that way.

1449: Wisdom teeth. What's the point of them? Evolution should have sorted those out by now.

Team news: Young Wolves goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey is drafted in for his first international start and Danny Gabbidon plays despite lack of match practice. The Czechs are near full strength and Arsenal's Tomas Rosicky is skipper after recovering from having his wisdom teeth out.

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).

1445: Next statement. Back to the football. Wales are ranked 75th in the world, nestling between the might of Oman and the cunning of Slovenia in the global list. They have won three of their last eight matches.

1443: News from on high from the football editor. The word 'and' is now banned from the start of entries as it assumes you will have read the prior entry. Apologies for confusing you. It's all about the 'user experience'. Never mind the chilled-out conversational experience.

1442: And the Czechs, who are ranked 10th in the world, won the reverse fixture 2-1 last September.

1440: The Czechs have won five of their last eight matches and lost one, to the Germans in March this year.

1436: And they could have their work cut out this afternoon against the Czech Republic, who are joint leaders in Group D with Germany and the Republic of Ireland.

1433: And what's more, never mind pride, Wales really need to win this. Defeat would effectively end their interest in qualifying for Euro 2008.

1430: Wales got a right royal battering in the rugby down under this morning, but here is an immediate chance to win back some semblance of sporting pride.

Wales v Czech Republic photos
02 Jun 07 |  Football


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