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France U21 1-0 Wales U21

Neal Eardley
Neal Eardley's own-goal sent Wales to defeat

A Neal Eardley own-goal condemned a brave Wales side to defeat in their first UEFA Championship group match.

The Oldham defender turned a right-wing cross into his own net from six yards in the 50th minute.

It was a result of constant French pressure as Crewe youngster Owain Fn Williams was kept very busy in the Welsh goal.

Wales came closest to an equaliser with two minutes left when Mike Williams headed narrowly over.

France had already only drawn their first group match last month against Romania, so they desperately needed to get their campaign going with a victory.

And Wales were forced to battle hard at the back, with Williams and Cardiff's Chris Gunter outstanding at the heart of defence, and somehow reached the break still level.

That was partly thanks to Owain fon Willaims' outstanding save in the 27th minute from a free-kick by Newcastle's Charles N'Zogbia.

Wales' only first-half chance fell to Wrexham's Mike Williams, who fired over from eight yards.

France continued with the pressure in the second half until the breakthrough came on 50 minutes.

It continued to be one-way traffic, but boss Bryan Flynn opted for extra attackers in the final minutes looking for an equaliser.

He took off Swansea midfielders Joe Allen and Shaun MacDonald midway through the half, sending on Neil Taylor and Sam Vokes, but to no avail.

Wales: Williams, Eardley, Gunter, M Williams, Jacobson, Allen (Taylor 66), Ramsey (James 80), Edwards, MacDonald (Vokes 66), Evans, Cotterill.
Subs Not Used: R Taylor, Blake, Church,

see also
BBC Sport Wales coverage
24 Dec 06 |  Wales

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