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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 October, 2003, 21:40 GMT 22:40 UK
Hughes plays down defeat
Wales played Rob Earnshaw as part of a new 4-3-3 formation
Wales manager Mark Hughes was keen to diminish the significance of his side's 3-2 home defeat against Serbia & Montenegro.

The night's results saw Wales confirmed in the Euro 2004 play-offs, a disappointment to many fans after they had won the first four games in the qualification campaign.

But Hughes says he was resigned to the play-offs before the Serbia match and used the encounter as a chance to experiment with his line-up.

"We accepted that Italy would beat Azerbaijan and claim automatic qualification," Hughes told BBC Sport Wales, "The Serbia game was an opportunity to try something different and I was reasonably pleased."

We caused Serbia untold problems at times
Mark Hughes
With Wales having an injury-hit squad and needing to protect key players from the danger of suspension, Hughes switched from his regular 4-5-1 formation to an adventurous 4-3-3 line-up.

"We played some great attacking stuff and caused Serbia untold problems at times," said Hughes.

"Our lads tired towards the end, though, whereas they (Serbia) were able to bring on a lot of quality and up the pace.

"It would have been nice to get back to winning ways, but there are always problems for us when we have injuries and suspensions.

"Stumbling over the finishing line in the group isn't what we wanted, but people have to remember how well we have done to get to this stage.

"We'll learn from the video and the team will be okay for the play-offs."






WATCH AND LISTEN
Wales boss Mark Hughes
"We faded in the last quarter"



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