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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 August, 2004, 19:03 GMT 20:03 UK
Hartson backs formation
John Hartson
John Hartson lauded the benefits of playing with a strike partner after helping Wales to a 2-0 win in Latvia.

He laboured alone in a 4-5-1 formation for much of Wales' Euro 2004 campaign, but formed a formidable duo with fellow-scorer Craig Bellamy in Riga.

"Any striker will tell you it's hard with one up front," said Hartson.

"With Craig's pace and the speed coming down the flanks from the other guys, we can cause teams problems in the World Cup qualifiers."

The Celtic striker acknowledged that Wales were somewhat fortunate to claim the win after enduring pressure from the home side for much of the game.

"We were a bit lucky, they hit the bar and missed with a header from about a yard out," he said.

It was an excellent result but not an excellent performance
Craig Bellamy
"I nicked one at the end, and was pleased that Craig got the second after he worked so hard all night.

"It's about winning games at the end of the day. We're five games unbeaten now and will take a poor performance."

Hartson's striking side-kick Bellamy was downbeat despite the win.

"It was an excellent result but not an excellent performance," said the Newcastle front man.

"We were ok in the first half but very fortunate in the second.

"Latvia are a good side, as they proved in the Euro 2004 finals in Portugal.

"But we've been playing better than we showed tonight."

Whatever Bellamy's feelings, Wales manager Mark Hughes was delighted with the contribution of his strike force.

The way Wales attacked and the quality of their play shows that they can cause a problem to any team in the world
Latvia coach Alexanders Starkovs
"Craig was outstanding while John led the line superbly," said Hughes.

"He got no protection from the referee, and that is something I seem to talk about over and over again, but he kept his cool, while Craig is as sharp and as confident as I have ever seen him in his career.

"I could not have been happier with the front two. They are capable of hurting any team in the world playing like that, and that includes England."

The threat was reinforced by an impressed Latvia coach Alexanders Starkovs.

"It is for Sven-Goran Eriksson to decide whether they [Hartson and Bellamy] will be a danger to him," said Starkovs.

"But the way Wales attacked and the quality of their play shows that they can cause a problem to any team in the world.

"I would like to congratulate Wales, they were fine opponents and I wish them luck in their World Cup games... and hope they beat England."

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