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Wales 0-1 Poland

Wales' Gareth Bale reacts after being tackled by Poland's Marcin Wacilewski
Wales' Gareth Bale reacts after being tackled by Poland's Marcin Wacilewski

Wales showed encouraging form ahead of March's crucial World Cup qualifiers despite losing to a slick Poland side in Wednesday's friendly in Portugal.

Half-time substitute Roger Guerreiro brilliantly chipped Wales goalkeeper Boaz Myhill 10 minutes from time to secure victory for the Poles.

But there were plenty of plusses for a youthful Wales missing several players.

Joe Ledley hit the bar in the first half, while midfield substitute Aaron Ramsey impressed after half-time.

Wales have only beaten Poland once in their history, back in 1973, but despite the scoreline did not look outclassed by the current crop rated 37 places above them in the Fifa rankings.

Coach John Toshack's side are next in action on 28 March at home to Finland, in a match they really must win to keep their Group Four qualification hopes alive.

Then four days later Wales face group leaders Germany, also in Cardiff, while Poland resume their competitive campaign against Northern Ireland.

Poland were more fluid from the start at the Santo Antonio Sports Complex and soon had Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey scrambling.

First the Wolves stopper had to stop a 20-yarder from Rafal Murawski, before Mariusz Lewandowski fired wide from the edge of the box after a neat pull-back.

Craig Bellamy was always a threat to the Polish defence with his pace, making light of the swollen knee that had made winning his 55th cap doubtful right up until the morning of the match.

But it was Poland who broke away again for Jacek Krzynowek to drill in a left-wing cross that a stretching Lukasz Gargula just failed to connect with at the far post.

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On 19 minutes Bellamy played a one-two with Gareth Bale and hared away towards the Polish goal, only for the covering Michal Zewlakow to clear the danger as Bellamy chipped over onrushing keeper Lukasz Fabianski.

Good work by Bellamy's Manchester City team-mate Ched Evans down the right channel fashioned another chance for his skipper, only for Bellamy to sky the cross high over the bar.

But Wales were coming more and more into the game and confusion in the Poland defence from a Bellamy free-kick allowed Ledley to clip a looping half-volley towards goal.

The ball looped over Poland goalkeeper Fabianski only to clip off the top of the crossbar and out again.

Zewlakow scrambled the ball away, but from the resulting corner Arsenal stopper Fabianski had to get down smartly to his left to palm away Dave Edwards' goalbound shot.

Poland were trying to hold a high line but Bellamy spun his marker brilliantly and set off downfield again, but Zewlakow did enough to force him to shoot wide from a tight angle.

Jack Collison also threatened with a drive into the box, only to be denied by the offside flag, but Poland could easily have taken the lead as the half ended.

A fortunate deflection allowed Robert Lewandowski a clear shot from the edge of the box, but the Poznan striker tried to place his shot and Hennessey produced a fine save low to his left.

Wales boss Toshack made five changes at half-time, with Myhill, Ramsey, Sam Vokes, Carl Fletcher and David Cotterill all coming off the bench.

The Poles also made several switches, with Celtic's Artur Boruc taking over from Fabianski in goal, while Ebi Smolarek, Guerreiro and Wojciech Lobodzinski replaced Rafal Boguski, Gargula and Krzynowek.

But while Wales took time to settle after their changes, Poland seemed livened by theirs with Guerreiro - a naturalised Brazilian - looking especially dangerous.

Wales captain Craig Bellamy is tacked by Poland's Mariusz Lewandowski
Wales captain Craig Bellamy is tacked by Poland's Mariusz Lewandowski

Wales reasserted themselves, with Ramsey starting to pull the strings from midfield, and a Bale free-kick from wide left fizzed across goal but just lacked a final touch.

Poland threatened with a couple of Guerreiro free-kicks, the first arcing over and Myhill doing well to punch away the lofted second.

But Wales were creating chances themselves down the wings, with Bale on the left and Cotterill on the right bombing forward when prompted by Ramsey.

In one such attack Cotterill, reaching the byline before pulling the ball back, fashioned a chance for Edwards, but the Wolves midfielder saw his shot deflected wide.

Mariusz Lewandowski drew a smart save from Myhill, low to his left, with a long-range shot but the Hull keeper was then beaten with 10 minutes left as Guerreiro raced onto a long ball over the top.

The Legia Warsaw player took the ball in his stride and, from the edge of the area, produced a sublime chip with the outside of his left boot that arced over Myhill to nestle in the back of the net.


Wales: Hennessey (Myhill 46), Gunter, Ricketts, Ashley Williams, Nyatanga, Bale, Edwards, Collison (Ramsey 46), Ledley (Fletcher 46), Evans (Cotterill 47), Bellamy (Vokes 46).
Subs Not Used: Tudur-Jones, Rhys Williams, Crofts, Vaughan, Eardley, Fon Williams.

Booked: Fletcher, Cotterill.

Poland: Fabianski (Boruc 46), Wawrzyniak, Zewlakow, Wasilewski, Krzynowek (Roger 46), Boguski (Smolarek 46), Murawski (Tralka 75), Gargula (Lobodzinski 46), Mariusz Lewandowski, Dudka, Robert Lewandowski (Brozek 62).
Subs Not Used: Wojtkowiak, Pawlowski, Kokoszka.

Booked: Roger.

Goals: Roger 80.

Att: 487.

Ref: Bruno Miguel Duarte Paixao (Portugal).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Sam Vokes on 7.27 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished



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see also
Bellamy dismisses supporter row
11 Feb 09 |  Internationals
Keeper not to blame, says Toshack
11 Feb 09 |  Internationals
International football as it happened
11 Feb 09 |  Internationals
International football photos
11 Feb 09 |  Football
Ledley backed for lead Wales role
11 Feb 09 |  Internationals
'Healthy' Wales encourage Bellamy
10 Feb 09 |  Internationals
Young Collison hails Zola tuition
09 Feb 09 |  Internationals
Earnshaw recalled to Wales squad
26 Aug 08 |  Internationals
Pick your Wales XI
05 Feb 07 |  Internationals
Wales' international fixtures
22 Aug 07 |  Internationals
Wales' results archive
10 Oct 05 |  Internationals
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Feb 09 |  Wales
Country profile: Poland
21 Aug 09 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Portugal
23 Oct 09 |  Country profiles


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