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Thursday, 13 February, 2003, 22:40 GMT
Hartson extends Wales run
Wales 2-2 Bosnia-Herzegovina
Wales extended their unbeaten run to nine matches to set a new national record, but had to come from behind twice against Bosnia-Herzegovina to do it.
Elvir Baljic stunned the Millennium Stadium crowd with an opener for the visitors after five minutes, only for Cardiff striker Robert Earnshaw to equalise almost immediately.
Bosnia-Herzegovina again took the lead in the second half, Sergej Barbaraz stealing in unnoticed to head home.
But John Hartson's third goal in four internationals rescued Wales to claim a piece of history, the country's best ever sequence in their 127-year history.
Wales' mood was lifted before the kick-off with news that Group Nine rivals Serbia-Montenegro - formerly Yugoslavia - had been held to a 2-2 draw in their home match with minnows Azerbaijan.
However, it took only five minutes for Galatasaray winger Baljic to spoil the occasion, leaving Rhys Weston trailing on Wales' right flank before firing into the opposite bottom corner.
With Aston Villa's Mark Delaney out for three months after knee surgery, Weston had the opportunity to show he could fill the right-back berth.
But the way the Cardiff City player was out-foxed during the first half won't have filled manager Mark Hughes with confidence.
Yet one player oozing confidence is Weston's fellow Bluebird Earnshaw, who had Wales back on level terms within three minutes.
John Hartson rose highest to flick on to Earnshaw, who swivelled on the edge of the penalty area to fire a superb shot into the top left-hand corner past Kenan Hasagic in the visitors' goal.
Bosnia-Herzegovina were giving Wales a torrid time in midfield, despite the tireless running of Robbie Savage, where the experience of calf injury victim Ryan Giggs was sorely missed.
Ward, winning his third cap with Southampton's Paul Jones rested, comfortably fielded a Baljic free-kick and launched a swift Wales counter with 35 minutes gone.
Earnshaw tricked his way to the byline before cutting the ball back, via a Bosnian heel, for Gary Speed to bring a good save out of Hasagic.
Mark Crossley replaced Ward in goal for the second half, but the Middlesbrough stopper could do little but watch in relief when Bolic nodded a Baljic cross onto the roof of the net
Then Savage did well to throw himself in front of Barbarez's shot as Bosnia-Herzegovina swarmed towards the Wales goal.
With the home side looking sluggish, Hughes tried to inject some extra energy with the introduction of Matthew Jones for Weston.
The Leicester player's introduction completed Jones' comeback after 12 months of rehabilitation since rupturing cruciate ligaments in his right knee.
Yet the general sloppiness among the red shirts continued and Bosnia made them pay in full from a corner on 64 minutes.
Simon Davies was left outnumbered on the left as the visitors took a short corner, then no one picked up the far-post run of Barbarez to leave the Hamburg midfielder with a regulation header to score.
Wales were shocked out of their stupor and had conjured a second equaliser within 10 minutes.
Savage threw himself into a header and the ball fell kindly to Hartson, who turned smartly inside two defenders before lashing a left-foot shot into the corner of the net.
There were half-chances for either side to snatch an undeserved win as the replacements poured on, but both Hughes and opposite number Blaz Sliskovic will be content to share the honours.
Ward (Crossley 46), Weston (Matthew Jones 60), Melville, Page, Speed, Davies,
Savage (Oster 88), Pembridge, Earnshaw (Koumas 77), Bellamy, Hartson (Taylor
Bosnia-Herzegovina: Hasagic, Berberovic, Music, Konjic, Biscevic (Velagic 90),
Hibic, Bolic (Nedim Halilovic 89), Beslija, Barbarez (Miskovic 80), Grujic
(Mulina 79), Baljic (Hrgovic 79).
Referee: David Malcolm (Northern Ireland).
13 Feb 03 | Wales
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