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Page last updated at 20:38 GMT, Wednesday, 1 April 2009 21:38 UK

Wales 0-2 Germany

By Bruce Pope

Germany midfielder Michael Ballack celebrates his goal against Wales
Germany midfielder Michael Ballack celebrates his goal against Wales

Wales suffered another 2010 World Cup qualifying loss in Cardiff but showed against Germany on Wednesday night that there is still cause for optimism.

A 30-yard strike from Michael Ballack and an own-goal by Ashley Williams gave Group Four leaders Germany another win.

But Wales were controversially denied a penalty when Serdar Tasci handled as he slipped in front of Joe Ledley.

Rob Earnshaw relished the senior Wales striker role in Craig Bellamy's injury absence, while Aaron Ramsey also shone.

The Arsenal 18-year-old was making his full debut, on his fourth cap, and was soon pulling the strings for Wales from midfield.

Ramsey showed he must be a fixture in the senior Wales side from now on with an impressive display against a powerful and experienced German side.

Unfortunately for Wales, the visitors had the outstanding midfielder in Ballack, the Chelsea man always a threat from an advanced role.

Wales had been lucky not to concede inside two minutes, as goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey flapped ineffectually at Philipp Lahm's whipped cross from the left.

But Ballack underlined Germany's early dominance when he was given too much time and space in midfield to fire in a superb dipping, 30-yard right-foot shot.

It was the Chelsea midfielder's 41st goal for his country, arriving on his 92nd Germany cap.

It would have been easy for Wales, short on confidence and experience, to crumble after the early setback.

But where Wales were tentative in Saturday's 2-0 loss to Finland - also in Cardiff - they were creative and eager against Germany despite losing by the same score.

John Toshack's youthful side slowly but surely began to play their way into the game, with Ramsey more often than not picking the right pass for the right occasion.

First Simon Davies earned a corner as he burst after a ball down the right channel, then Earnshaw slalomed in from the left to blast a shot off Per Mertesacker's shins.

The little Nottingham Forest striker again went close as he nipped in behind the Germany centre-backs, but keeper Robert Enke came smartly off his line to snuff out the danger.

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Wales' new-found confidence should have earned a reward on 26 minutes as Tottenham's Gareth Bale and Ledley combined down the left flank.

Ledley drove into the Germany box and Tasci slipped as he backed off, the Stuttgart defender's sprawling hand blocking the ball as he fell.

It seemed a clear penalty, but referee Terje Haunge - who was well-sighted - opted to wave away Wales' spot-kick claims.

Thomas Hitzlsperger nearly added insult to injury as he crashed a free-kick towards the Wales net, only for Hennessey to plunge full-stretch to push the ball away.

The Wolves stopper produced another great save soon after to deny Lukas Podolski from 10 yards, after the Bayern Munich striker was put through by Ballack.

There was no doubt that Germany had had the better of an absorbing first half, but Wales had shown a Millennium Stadium crowd enough to earn a warm round of applause as they left the field at half-time.

Wales boss Toshack had a very different reaction for referee Haunge, showing his displeasure presumably at the official's reading of the Tasci handball incident.

Toshack had further reason to scowl soon after the restart as an own-goal gifted Germany a 2-0 lead.

Germany's Serdar Tasci sends Joe Ledley sprawling in the area
Germany's Serdar Tasci sends Joe Ledley sprawling in the area

Mario Gomez got lucky as the ball tangled in his legs under a James Collins challenge on the right and the Stuttgart attacker was able to send a hopeful, low cross into the Wales box.

Williams instinctively stuck out a leg and was unfortunate to touch the ball into his own net just inside the near post.

Earnshaw nearly got Wales back in the game minutes later as he wiggled between three defenders, but Enke got an instinctive right hand to the powerful shot.

Germany counter-attacked and Hennessey got his positioning perfect to field Bastian Schweinsteiger's fierce left-foot shot in his midriff.

Ched Evans took over up front for the hard-working Vokes after 62 minutes, while defender Lewin Nyatanga was sacrificed as David Cotterill beefed up Wales' attacking options.

Germany were content to sit back with their two-goal cushion and try to hit Wales on the counter.

Although it was to Wales' credit that they were as much of a threat as their visitors, Toshack's side could not manage to claim a consolation goal despite pushing until the final minute.

Saturday's loss to Finland and now this defeat to Germany snuffs out any faint World Cup qualification hopes Wales may have harboured.

But Toshack can now try to meld a team that can enter future qualification campaigns with realistic hopes of progression.


Wales: Hennessey, Ricketts (Gunter 54), Ashley Williams, Collins, Nyatanga (Cotterill 75), Davies (capt), Ramsey, Ledley, Bale, Earnshaw, Vokes (Evans 62).
Subs not used: Myhill, Fletcher, Robinson, Edwards.

Germany: Enke, Beck, Mertesacker, Rolfes (Westermann 79), Lahm, Schweinsteiger (Helmes 86), Tasci, Ballack (capt), Hitzlsperger, Podolski (Trochowski 72), Gomez.
Subs not used: Wiese, Hinkel, Marin, Schafer.

Booked: Rolfes.

Goals: Ballack 11, Ashley Williams 48 og.

Att: 26,000

Referee: Terje Haunge (Norway).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Germany's Michael Ballack (7.86 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
Referee decisions get Toshack ire
01 Apr 09 |  Internationals
Robinson takes Wales retirement
01 Apr 09 |  Internationals
Bellamy envious of Irish success
01 Apr 09 |  Internationals
Savage predicts Welsh 'hammering'
31 Mar 09 |  Internationals
Welsh inexperience concerns Rush
31 Mar 09 |  Internationals
Germany 'expected' to beat Wales
31 Mar 09 |  Internationals
Welsh players share strong words
31 Mar 09 |  Internationals
Players need club games - Toshack
29 Mar 09 |  Welsh
Bellamy writes off Wales chances
28 Mar 09 |  Welsh
Wales 0-2 Finland
28 Mar 09 |  Internationals
Denmark 0-1 Wales
19 Nov 08 |  Internationals
Ramsey is Wales 'future' - Giggs
05 Dec 08 |  Internationals
Ramsey completes Arsenal switch
13 Jun 08 |  Arsenal
Wales' international fixtures
22 Aug 07 |  Internationals
Wales' results 2009
07 Feb 09 |  Internationals
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Feb 09 |  Wales


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