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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 November, 2003, 21:24 GMT
Russia break Welsh hearts
EURO 2004 PLAY-OFF, 2nd LEG
Vadim Evseev celebrates the crucial goal
Wales (0) 0-1 (0) Russia
Wales 0-1 Russia

A first-half goal from Wales' nemesis Vadim Evseev saw Russia through to the Euro 2004 finals with a clinical performance at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

The full-back's first-leg clash with Ryan Giggs in Moscow had dominated the build-up to the game, and his powerful header from a 22nd-minute Rolan Gusev free kick had a touch of fate about it.

Wales battled hard throughout and clear chances fell to John Hartson, Ryan Giggs and Gary Speed.

None were converted, though, and the technical superiority of the Russians ensured that Wales' 45-year wait to qualify for a major championship would be extended.

KEY MOMENTS
12 mins: Hartson scuffs the first chance of the game wide
21 mins: Gusev forces a corner from Barnard
22 mins: Evseev powers in Gusev's free-kick
42 mins: Giggs' shot beats the keeper - but not the post
47 mins: Speed sends a free header well wide
74 mins: A superb Jones save denies Boulykin
Wales manager Mark Hughes had begun with the cautious approach that served him so well in Moscow, playing a 4-5-1 formation with in-form striker Rob Earnshaw left on the bench.

The early indications were positive with Andy Johnson prominent in a fiery opening, but there were increasing signs that Hartson was isolated up front.

The Celtic striker had the first chance of the game in the 12th minute, gaining a clear opening after a long Speed throw, but he could only scuff his shot wide.

Alexei Smertin signalled the danger posed by the skilful visitors with a 16th-minute run and shot, but the man posing the real threat was Gusev.

We feel that we've failed over a 10-game campaign
Wales captain Gary Speed
A dangerous run from the right wing forced Grimsby defender Darren Barnard to concede a free kick near the corner flag in the 21st minute.

Gusev delivered a perfect ball into the Wales six-yard box, and Evseev surged forward to connect with a powerful header for the opening goal.

The technically superior Russians dominated for the rest of the half, but with just three minutes to go to the break Giggs had a golden chance to put Wales level.

Hartson won a header on the edge of the box, Giggs took it past the first defender, but his shot off the side of the boot hit the outside of Malafeev's post.

Ryan Giggs beats the keeper - but not the post
Wales had their chances to equalise
That ignited the game, as Russia fired straight back to the Welsh penalty box where Gusev curled a shot just wide of the Wales goal.

Speed blew a great opening at the start of the second period, the Wales captain powering a header wide when he was left unmarked at a corner.

Hughes played the one card he was holding in the 57th minute, sending Earnshaw on for Johnson.

Surprisingly, the Cardiff man was put wide on the right with Giggs - who had been troubling Russia with his runs from midfield - up front alongside Hartson.

The move seemed to blunt Wales' attack, and 15 uneventful minutes later Hughes brought on Nathan Blake for Jason Koumas, allowing Giggs to slip back onto the flank.

As Wales threw caution to the wind a Russian breakaway gave Dmitry Boulykin a clear run at goal, but a superb Paul Jones save denied him.

Hughes' revamped formation could make no impression on the street-wise Russians and they comfortably ran down the clock in front of a heartbroken home crowd.


Wales: Paul Jones, Delaney, Melville, Gabbidon, Barnard, Koumas (Blake 74), Savage, Speed, Johnson (Earnshaw 58), Giggs, Hartson.
Subs Not Used: Crossley, Edwards, Robinson, Oster, Symons.

Booked: Savage, Barnard.

Russia: Malafeev, Evseev, Ignashevich, Onopko, Sennikov, Smertin, Titov (Radimov 59), Alenitchev, Gusev, Izmailov, Boulykin.
Subs Not Used: Akinfeev, Solomatin, Aldonin, Loskov, Sychev, Kerzhakov.

Booked: Alenitchev, Boulykin, Radimov.

Attendance: 73,062

Referee: Manuel Gonzalex (Spain)






WATCH AND LISTEN
Wales manager Mark Hughes
"We didn't have enough variation in our game"


BBC Five Live's Ron Jones
"The Russians were superbly organised"



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